NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and 11 leaders of other opposition parties who landed at Srinagar airport on Saturday have been asked by the local administration to return to Delhi. Sources said that the politicians were not allowed to enter the city from the Srinagar airport due to security reasons.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under severe restrictions since the Centre withdrew the special status of the state and divided it into two Union territories earlier this month.
On Friday evening, the Jammu And Kashmir Information and Public Relations Department had tweeted that political leaders should not "not visit Srinagar as they would be putting other people to inconvenience at a time when the government is trying to protect the people of Jammu and Kashmir from the threat of cross border terrorism and attacks..."
Among the leaders of parties that were part of the Opposition's all-party delegation that landed at Srinagar were Congress, CPM, CPI, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Nationalist Congress Party, Trinamool Congress and the DMK.
Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, KC Venugopal and Anand Sharma were among the delegation from the party besides Gandhi. Azad was twice stopped at Jammu airport, most recently on Tuesday, and was "forcibly" sent back to Delhi both times.
The Congress tweeted on Saturday stating that the intention of the delegation of opposition leaders led by Rahul Gandhi is to assess the ground situation in Kashmir. "This visit is an attempt to review the reality in the region after the abrogation of Article 370," the tweet read.
Earlier on the day before leaving for Srinagar Azad said, "We are all responsible political parties and leaders. We are not going to break any law. The Jammu and Kashmir situation is very concerning. It's close to 20 days. No news for 20 days. The government says the situation is normal. But then they don't allow leaders to go? Haven't seen such contradiction... If it's normal, why aren't we allowed?"
Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s Dinesh Trivedi, Tiruchi Siva of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India’s D Raja were part of the delegation. Others who went were Loktantrik Janta Dal’s Sharad Yadav, Manoj Jha of Rashtriya Janata Dal, Majeed Memon (Nationalist Congress Party) and D Kupendra Reddy of the Janta Dal (Secular).