Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 13
The Congress today said an all-party delegation should be allowed to visit the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to see the ground situation for itself.
“No amount of claims by the government, local administration or the police will help. An all-party delegation should be allowed to visit the UT, meet people and see the situation. The government says rumours are being sparked about J&K. The only way to scotch these rumours is to allow an all-party delegation to visit J&K,” senior Congress spokesman Anand Sharma said today.
The Congress stand was articulated hours after party leader and former chief Rahul Gandhi accepted J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik’s invitation to visit the UT but declined the Governor’s offer of a plane.
"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 (sic)," Gandhi tweeted after Malik said yesterday that Rahul Gandhi was welcome to visit J&K and see the reality himself. The Governor also said he would arrange a plane for Gandhi.
The Governor was responding after Gandhi’s comments that “people were dying in J&K and the Prime Minister needed to come clean”.
Later today, the Congress termed Governor Malik’s statement patronising.
Anand Sharma said the Congress believed that integration of J&K with India was irrevocable but it was concerned about reports of “clampdown and news blackout” emanating from the state.
Sharma called upon PM Narendra Modi to initiate a political dialogue on the issue and said: “The government took the unilateral decision of abrogating Article 370 and bifurcating J&K. It should now initiate the political dialogue.”
The Congress leader demanded that the NC and the PDP leaders detained in the Valley be released immediately. “Surely the BJP believes both these parties to be legitimate Indian political parties having done business with both in the past,” Sharma said. He said nine days had passed with the “clampdown persisting”.
Guv slams Rahul
Rahul is politicising the Kashmir situation by seeking to bring a delegation of Oppn leaders to create further unrest… He has put forth many conditions for visiting J&K, including meeting leaders under detention. The case has been referred to the police and administration. Satya Pal Malik, J&K Governor