Yashwant Sinha-led group rejects normalcy claims in J&k

A group of concerned citizens (CGC) led by former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha on Saturday belied government of India’s claims that normalcy has returned to Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.

The group, currently on a visit to Kashmir to assess the ground situation, asserted that Kashmir's picture presented in Parliament was totally averse to the ground situation.

“We have come here to assess the situation. The government claims that normalcy has returned and we wanted to reconfirm it. (But) we observed there is no normalcy as we can’t even travel freely in Kashmir,” civil society activist Kapil Kak, who is part of the group told reporters, here.

He said they had plans to visit south Kashmir’s Anantnag, Pulwama and Shopian districts to interact with a cross-section of people “but were not allowed to move out of the hotel by the authorities.”

While commenting on normalcy claims of Central government, Yashwant Sinha, who was Foreign and Finance minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee, said that when political leaders including three former chief ministers were under detention for the last three and half months, “how come situation was normal.”

“The statement made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the parliament is totally averse to the ground situation in Kashmir. Normalcy picture presented in Parliament is incorrect,” Sinha, a former BJP leader, asserted.

Authorities on Saturday did not allow the group members to venture out of a hotel in Srinagar, where they are staying. A senior police official told DH that the group members were was advised to meet people at their hotel “as there were terrorist threats in south Kashmir".

A security advisory issued by SSP security to the five-member group read that, “I am directed by SSP security, Kashmir to strongly advise you to refrain from taking any such journey which would jeopardize your safety and security.’’

Besides Sinha and Kak, former chief information commissioner of India Wajahat Habibullah and journalist Bharat Bhushan are other members of the group, which arrived on a four-day visit to Kashmir on Friday.

Habibullah said that the suspension of democratic liberties of people was of the highest concern for him.

“The democratic liberties of people should be restored immediately,” he said. “If democratic rights are denied to the people, that’s a big concern.”

The CGC members were also scheduled to meet incarcerated political leaders including three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and CPI (M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami. On Friday Sinha had spoken to Farooq Abdullah over the phone.

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