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Rahul Gandhi sent back from Srinagar within hours of arrival

August 25, 2019 04:57 AM

COURTESY MIRROR AUG 25

Rahul Gandhi sent back from Srinagar within hours of arrival
Protests after a 12-member delegation was stopped at the airport; it included Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad
Anil.Raina@timesgroup.com
TWEETS @MumbaiMirror

#SRINAGAR

Srinagar airport witnessed a protestlike a situation after a12-member delegation, including Rahul Gandhi and media personals from Delhi, were stopped at the Srinagar airport soon after they had landed. They were sent back to Delhi.


Sources at the Srinagar airport told Mirror that the delegation reached at 1.45 pm, following which the political leaders were separated from the media teams. The members were not even allowed to come out from the arrival room, and instead were taken to a separate room by the Jammu and Kashmir police on the premises.

“The media teams started protesting for not being allowed to report inside the airport, and were forcefully taken out of the airport building,” the source said, adding, “The members, including Rahul Gandhi and Ghulam Nabi Azad, were protesting for not being allowed to leave airport with other members. They wanted to visit Srinagar to take stock of the situation. Few leaders were having discussions with senior government and police officials, who had come to meet them.”

Around 4.10 pm, the delegation was sent back to Delhi.

“We came here as you are saying everything is normal in Kashmir. Please allow us to visit the Valley. Why are you stopping us?” Azad told the journalists.

Azad was twice stopped at Jammu airport, most recently on Tuesday, and was forcibly sent back to Delhi both times.

Recently, Gandhi and Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik had entered into a war of words on Twitter. The governor had said Rahul Gandhi was responding to fake news and trying to politicise the situation.

Meanwhile, Malik said there was no need for Gandhi to come to Srinagar anymore as the arrival of the delegation of Opposition leaders was nothing but a political action.

“I had invited him out of goodwill, but he indulged in politics. Parties should keep in mind the national interest during such times,” Malik said.

Kashmir Valley has been placed under security lockdown since August 5, when Article 370 was abrogated.

Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday had advised the opposition leaders not to visit, saying attempts should not be made to disturb the gradual restoration of normalcy in the state.

Development council polls soon

Jammu and Kashmir has decided to hold Block Development Council (BDC) elections across the state soon. The elections would be held for 316 BDCs across the state for which necessary exercise has been completed in Kashmir, while in Jammu it is in the last stage.

Principal secretary of planning and development, Rohit Kansal, who is also government’s spokesperson, said that the rural development department is approaching the chief electoral officer for holding early elections, the exercise for which is expected to be completed by September.

Restrictions relaxed

Restrictions were lifted in most areas of Kashmir on Saturday, a day after strict curbs on the movement of people were imposed in the valley in view of the Friday prayers and the proposed march of separatists to the local United Nations military observer group office.

Officials said people were allowed to move freely even as deployment of security forces continued on the ground.

While barricades were removed from most areas, concertina wire barriers continued to be in place on the roads in some areas of the city and elsewhere in the valley, they said, adding that security forces allowed the movement of people only after checking their identity cards.

Day time restrictions have been lifted from 69 police stations while as in Jammu the day time restrictions have been eased out from 81 police stations.

On law and order front, the security forces are maintaining close watch on the situation and there has been a steady decline in the disturbance incidents.

Regarding the landline phones restoration, the spokesperson said that the landlines are being restored in the areas where restrictions have been lifted, adding the restoration would take little more time due to the manual interventions. Kansal also informed that eight new exchanges comprising 5,300 connections would be restored over the weekend.

He also said that 1,500 primary schools and 1,000 middle schools are operational in the state and the attendance is picking up gradually. Education department is making efforts to start the schools in the areas where there are no restrictions in place.

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