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Kashmir Crisis updates: Opposition delegation returns to Delhi, cries foul

By Anuj Cariappa
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Srinagar, Aug 24: A delegation of opposition leaders including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who reached Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday has been sent back by the administration at the Srinagar Airport.

Restrictions have been imposed in Jammu and Kashmir since the centre withdrew special status from the state and divided it into two union territories earlier this month.

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6:47 PM, 24 Aug
Delegation of opposition leaders that went to SRINAGAR & was sent back from Srinagar airport in Budgam, writes a letter to Budgam District Magistrate:
6:31 PM, 24 Aug
Some days ago I was invited by Governor to visit Jammu and Kashmir. I accepted the invitation. We wanted to get a sense of what ppl are going through, but we were not allowed beyond the airport. Press people with us were mishandled, beaten. It is clear that situation in Jammu and Kashmir isn't normal, says Rahul Gandhi.
6:30 PM, 24 Aug
We weren't allowed to go to the city, but the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is terrifying. The stories we heard from the passengers of Kashmir present in our flight, would bring tears even to a stone, says Ghulam Nabi Azad.
3:22 PM, 24 Aug
Delegation of opposition leaders comprising Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, D Raja, Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha, Majeed Memon, and others that had reached Srinagar has been sent back.
2:33 PM, 24 Aug
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi arrives at Srinagar airport.
12:28 PM, 24 Aug
Majeed Memon, Senior NCP Leader is part of the delegation visiting Jammu and Kashmir.
11:59 AM, 24 Aug
Recently Congress MP, Ghulam Nabi Azad too was prevented from entering the state.
11:59 AM, 24 Aug
Till date, no political leader has been allowed to visit the state as a security measure.The leaders of political parties in Srinagar, such as Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been under house arrest.
11:59 AM, 24 Aug
The Opposition delegation plans to meet the people of Jammu and Kashmir to assess the situation after the Centre scrapped Article 370. Following this decision, restrictions were imposed to prevent violent protests.
11:54 AM, 24 Aug
CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury moves SC for production of party member Mohd Yousuf Tarigami, who has been detained in J&K.
11:47 AM, 24 Aug
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi onboard flight to Srinagar.
11:46 AM, 24 Aug
Sources in the Jammu and Kashmir police tell OneIndia that it is too risky to allow the Opposition leaders as there is a good chance that trouble could erupt. The administration had requested them not to disturb the Valley, but they have still decided to come.
11:45 AM, 24 Aug
As precautionary measure, the Opposition leaders who will visit Jammu and Kashmir will not be allowed to leave the airport.
11:41 AM, 24 Aug
"On one hand, the government says the situation is normal, and on the other hand, they don't allow anyone to go. Never seen such contradictions. If things are normal, then why political leaders are under house arrest?" Ghulam Nabi Azad told reporters.
11:41 AM, 24 Aug
Rahul Gandhi, who earlier expressed his desire to visit the Valley a number of times and had asked Governor Satya Pal Malik to permit him, is likely to be a part of the delegation.
11:40 AM, 24 Aug
Among some of the parties that will be part of the opposition delegation are the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India (CPI), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).
11:40 AM, 24 Aug
"They would also be violating restrictions that are still there in many areas. Senior leaders should understand that top priority would be given to maintaining peace, order and preventing loss of human lives," the department tweeted.
11:40 AM, 24 Aug
Meanwhile, evening requested the opposition leaders to not visit Srinagar as it would "disturb the gradual restoration of normal life".
11:32 AM, 24 Aug
The Valley has been under a lockdown and attempts are being made to ease out restrictions in a phased manner.
11:32 AM, 24 Aug
A delegation of opposition leaders will visit Srinagar on Saturday to meet people and assess situation in the Kashmir Valley.

Criticising the Centre for stopping an Opposition delegation led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from visiting Srinagar, the Congress on August 24, asked what the "government is trying to hide".

"If the situation in Jammu & Kashmir is 'normal' as the govt claims, why has the delegation of Opposition leaders led by Rahul Gandhi been sent back from Srinagar airport? What is the Modi govt trying to hide?" the party asked in a tweet.

Article 370: As opposition plans J&K visit, administration says 'do not disturb'

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the government itself should have sent an Opposition leaders' team there to check the facts and win the people's trust.

"The Opposition parties could have visited Srinagar and come back and told the truth to the whole country. It would have built confidence among people," said Gehlot speaking outside the Rajasthan Assembly on August 24.

Recalling former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's move to send delegations of Opposition leaders to various countries amid the Bangladesh liberation war, Gehlot said the Centre was expected to do something similar after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status and abrogation of Article 370.

Gehlot said instead of stopping Opposition leaders at the Srinagar airport, the government should have facilitated their visit to Srinagar and let them roam around and talk to the local people. It could have given the signal that democracy is still strong in J&K and the entire country.

Article 370: Govt reaches out to Mehbooba, Abdullah to create some political dialogue

"You [the government] talk of stopping them, I think it cannot be justified in any manner," he said.

Other leaders in the delegation include Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and K.C. Venugopal, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dinesh Trivedi, Tiruchi Siva, Majeed Memon, Manoj Jha and D. Kupendra Reddy.

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