Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accepted Governor Satya Pal Malik’s ‘invitation’ to visit Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) but asserted that he, along with other Opposition leaders, should have the “freedom to meet people, mainstream leaders and soldiers.”
The Congress also asked the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to take the leaders of the mainstream parties into confidence, have a political dialogue and allow an all-party delegation to visit J&K that could also effectively dispel Pakistan’s propaganda.
“Dear Governor Malik, A delegation of opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh. We won't need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel & meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted in response to Governor Malik’s earlier comments
On Monday, Governor Malik had said that he would send an aircraft for Mr. Gandhi to visit J&K after the Congress leader had questioned the law and order situation.
“We are extremely concerned about the reports that are coming and the government needs to assuage the country and tell the country what is happening in J&K,” the former Congress chief said last Saturday after reports of violence in the Kashmir Valley was discussed in the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
On Tuesday, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said that even after nine days of the Centre’s decision to make J&K a Union Territory, there were severe restrictions on movement of ordinary people, communication was yet to be restored and a news blackout was continuing.
“A situation must not be allowed that any aspersions are cast on the integrity of India’s constitutional democracy and the commitment of the Indian State, the government of India and the State administration to respecting the fundamental rights of every citizen of our republic,” Mr. Sharma told reporters.
The Congress also made a strong pitch for the immediate release of mainstream political leaders like Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah who have been put under house arrest since August 5.
“The government has been complaining about a disinformation campaign internationally. The best answer to that is let an all- party delegation go. Let the media be given the freedom to accompany, to meet the people and tell the world that what has been said is not true. As Indians, we would not like any entity, in particular Pakistan, not to take any unfair advantage of this situation,” Mr. Sharma said.