Rahul detained, sent back from Srinagar airport

Rahul detained, sent back from Srinagar airport

Rahul Gandhi, PTI file photo

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi, along with a delegation around dozen opposition leaders were detained at Srinagar International Airport on Saturday before being sent back to Delhi.

Gandhi, who was accompanied by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma, CPI (M) leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, DMK’s Tiruchi Siva, RJD’s Manoj Jha and Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, landed at the airport at around 1:40 pm by Vistara airline, sources said.

“However, they were detained as soon as they landed and taken to VIP lounge. Later they were sent back to Delhi at around 4:15 pm in another flight, the bookings for which had been made last evening only by the state administration,” they said.

Earlier on Friday, J&K Information and Public Relations (DIPR) Department had tweeted that political leaders should “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 across border terrorism and attacks.”

Gandhi led delegation had planned to visit Kashmir to get the first-hand account of the situation which has emerged after the Center scrapped Article 370 and reorganised Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5. So-far the government has not allowed any opposition leader to visit Kashmir since then.

While Azad was sent back twice in the last 20-days from Srinagar airport, Yechury and Raja too had tried earlier to visit Srinagar but were denied permission. Former chief ministers Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti and dozens of other political leaders have either been arrested or placed under house arrest.

On August 11, after Gandhi had said that reports of ‘violence and deaths’ had come from Jammu and Kashmir, Governor Satya Pal Malik had challenged him to visit the Valley personally. “I have invited Rahul Gandhi to come here. I will send you a plane, to observe (the situation) and then speak p. You (Gandhi) are a responsible person and should not speak like this,” Malik had said.

Gandhi accepted the invitation two days later, but the government withdrew it for putting ‘pre-conditions’ for the visit. “Rahul Gandhi is politicizing the matter by seeking to bring a delegation of opposition leaders to create further unrest and problems for the common people,” Malik had said.