A delegation of Opposition leaders, led by former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, which landed in Srinagar on Saturday afternoon to take stock of the situation after the suspension of Article 370, was not allowed to enter the city and was sent back to Delhi from the Srinagar airport.
The 12-member delegation was detained and taken to the VIP lounge of the airport as soon as the leaders disembarked from the aircraft.
A video clip, filmed at the VIP lounge and released by the Congress, showed Mr. Gandhi trying to reason with officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration to let them out of the airport.
“The government has invited me. The Governor has said I am invited. Now that I have come, you are telling me I can’t go out. The government has said everything is normal. Now, if everything is normal, why am I not allowed out? This is a bit surprising. We want to go to any area and talk to five, ten, 15 people,” Mr. Gandhi told the officials who read out a government order that the delegation couldn’t step out of the airport building.
The Opposition leaders later signed a strongly worded representation and asked the officials to hand it to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Governor Satyapal Malik.
In their joint representation the leaders described their detention as ‘undemocratic and unconstitutional’.
Leaders reiterated the issue of the Governor’s invitation in their representation to the Budgam District Magistrate. “We are responsible political leaders and elected representatives and our intentions are entirely peaceful and humanitarian. We are here to express solidarity with the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh and to expedite the process of return to normalcy,” it read and added that the J&K administrations apprehensions were baseless.
The delegation included Sharad Yadav (Loktantrik Janata Dal), Sitaram Yechury (CPI[M]), D. Raja (CPI), Tiruchi Siva (DMK), Dinesh Trivedi (Trinamool) and Majeed Memon (NCP), besides senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma.
“Denial of entry to leaders of recognised political parties is an outright attack on rights of political parties to meet and address their constituents,” Mr. Yechury tweeted.