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Rahul Gandhi accepts Governor Satyapal Malik's invitation to visit J&K, says need freedom to travel, not aircraft

Financial Express 2019-08-13 13:26:59

Hours after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik said he would send an aircraft for Rahul Gandhi to come and see the ground reality in the Valley for himself, the former Congress president on Tuesday reciprocated to the invitation and sought ‘freedom to travel and meet local politicians and soldiers’.

“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,” Rahul Gandhi, who is currently on a tour of his Lok Sabha constituency Wayanad to assess the damage due to devastating flood, said in a tweet put out today.

Governor Malik had on Monday slammed the Congress leader after he raised concerns over the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the Modi government’s big move to scrap Article 370 from the region.

“I have invited Rahul Gandhi to come here. I will send you a plane, to observe (the situation) and then speak up. You are a responsible person and you should not speak like this,” Malik had said.

Rahul Gandhi had on Saturday spoken of reports of violence in Jammu and Kashmir while addressing reporters. He asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi must assuage the people of the Valley over the situation.

Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had compared the situation in Jammu and Kashmir with Nazi concentration camps. “PM had announced from Red Fort that we’ll take Kashmiris forward not with bullets but by embracing them, but today situation in Kashmir is similar to that of a concentration camp. No mobile/internet connection, no Amarnath pilgrimage, what’s happening there?” Adhir Ranjan had told news agency ANI last week.

Several opposition leaders have been trying to visit Jammu and Kashmir since last week when the Parliament passed a resolution to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories. Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja were asked to return back to Delhi from Srinagar airport.

Former CM’s Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah have been kept under preventive custody since last week. Mobile internet services remain suspended in the state to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of Modi government’s move. The local administration had relaxed Section 144 from several areas on the occasion of Bakrid on Monday.

Barring a few sporadic incidents of stone pelting, the Valley has largely remain peaceful since last week, officials said.