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Rahul Gandhi, oppn leaders to visit Kashmir today; govt asks them to stay away

This will be Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to Srinagar since the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

SNS | New Delhi |

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi and other leaders of the opposition are set to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, weeks after the abrogation of Article 370 even as the administration asked them to stay away.

A delegation of nine opposition parties led by Gandhi will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday to meet the people and party leaders in the region where restrictions have been imposed since the abrogation of Article 370.

“Rahul Gandhi along with senior party leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and leaders from CPI, CPI-M, RJD, DMK and others will be part of the delegation,” a senior Congress leader told IANS.

The Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party are not part of the delegation.

NCP leader Majeed Memon who is part of the Opposition delegation said their motive is not to go and create disturbances. “We aren’t going in government’s opposition, but to support it, so that we too can give suggestions as to what must be done”.

This will be Rahul Gandhi’s first visit to Srinagar since the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

However, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has requested them against visiting the state, saying attempts should not be made to disturb the gradual restoration of normal life.

“At a time when the government is trying to protect the people of Jammu & Kashmir from the threat of cross border terrorism and attacks by militants and separatists and gradually trying to restore public order by controlling miscreants and mischief mongers, attempts should not be made by senior political leaders to disturb the gradual restoration of normal life,” the Information and Public Relations Department of the Jammu and Kashmir government said in a series of tweets.

“Political leaders are requested to cooperate and not visit Srinagar as they would be putting other people to inconvenience,” it said.

“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,” it added.

Earlier this month, Congress member of Parliament and leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad was sent back to Delhi hours after he was stopped at the Srinagar airport.

Azad was accompanied by Jammu and Kashmir Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir when they were stopped at the airport.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and another party member D Raja were detained at the Srinagar airport and sent back to Delhi.

Meanwhile, Restrictions were reimposed in Srinagar city on Friday after posters issued by the separatists called on people to march to the local United Nations military observer group office.

Restrictions were eased in most areas of Kashmir this week, with barricades being lifted and the movement of people and traffic increasing gradually, but markets remained shut and mobile and Internet services suspended for the 18th day on Thursday.

Posters had appeared in certain localities of the city, in which the Joint Resistance Leadership (JLR) conglomerate have asked peoples to march to the UN military observer group to protest against the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. The separatists have claimed that the Centre’s move to scrap Article 370 was an attempt to change the demography of the Muslim-majority state.

Barricades and concertina wires were erected at many places to prevent people from marching to Lal Chowk and Sonawar, where the UN office is located, the officials said, adding that the security forces had been deployed at strength at many places to maintain law and order.

Several leaders in the Valley have been kept in preventive custody after the Centre had on August 5 revoked almost all the provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to the state and bifurcated it into Union territories.