Azad is stopped at Srinagar airport, sent back to Delhi


India, All India

Azad said he represented Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha, and it was his right to visit the state and meet those who had voted for him.

Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was barred from entering Jammu and Kashmir and sent back from the Srinagar airport on Thursday, accused the BJP-led Central government of having “mercilessly massacred” the state by “dismembering” it into two parts.

He wondered if the Centre wanted to implement its decision to take away special status of Jammu and Kashmir by force as the entire region was put under lockdown and no one was even allowed to go out of house.

“The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been massacred by the government mercilessly. All laws made by the state earlier have been scrapped, Article 370 has been diluted and Article 35A has been taken out. One of the most famous state in the world has been divided into two. We have been dismembered. We have lost identity. We have lost everything,” he told reporters after returning to Delhi.

Mr Azad alleged that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have lost their identity and the pride of the state, which once had a “maharaja” and a Prime Minister and later for 18 years had the pride of having the President and the Prime Minister, has been lost.

“The pride J&K was a governor and a chief minister. Today, it will have only a lieutenant-governor. It is shame on the part of this government that this pride has been lost,” he said.

At the Delhi airport, Mr Azad said he was told by the police and civil officials that they had instructions not to allow him entry into Jammu and Kashmir and asked him to return.

Mr Azad said he represented Jammu and Kashmir in the Rajya Sabha, and it was his right to visit the state and meet those who had voted for him.

He said he as a member of the council of states had a duty to perform towards his voters in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir was stopped at Srinagar airport. He had to return back to Delhi. He was accompanied by J&K Congress chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir.

Mr Azad had gone to assess the situation in the Kashmir Valley and meet party leaders in the wake of the Centre revoking Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and dividing it into two Union territories.

“Maybe, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi sahib wants to implement the new ‘black law’ by force, by imposing curfew in 22 districts and then govern. What kind of governance is this,” he asked, accusing the government of claiming that people are celebrating in the state.

“They have ruined the state and they should be ashamed of doing so. They should be ashamed for ruining the state. The BJP has ruined the entire country first and now they have finished the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Mr Azad said during the flight he saw that not a single vehicle was on the road in the entire stretch of 80 kms of national highways around Srinagar.

Such a situation, he said, has never been seen earlier even during the 1965 and 1971 wars, as well as during the 1999 Kargil war.

“Probably first time in history, we have witnessed this. Even during curfew such a situation was not seen there earlier,” he said.

He said the passengers at Srinagar airport said that no one is even allowed to go out of their homes and visit even neighbours.

Earlier in the day, Mr Azad stoked a controversy by saying the people who had food with national security adviser Ajit Doval were “paid off” in Shopian district.

Mr Azad said “anyone can be brought along with money”, evoking a sharp reaction from the BJP which demanded an apology from him.

NSA Doval on Wednesday undertook a whirlwind visit to the militancy-infested south Kashmir and was seen eating food on a footpath outside closed shops and talking to locals. The pictures and videos went viral on social media.

“Paise dekar aap kisiko bhi saath le sakte ho (Anyone can be brought along with money),” Mr Azad said when asked about Mr Doval’s visit.

Mr Azad later sought to clarify his position saying the food was not free and must have been paid by someone. He, however, refused to comment on his colleague Karan Singh’s remarks taking a stand different from his party’s, saying he does not agree with a blanket condemnation of  the government’s decision on Jammu and Kashmir and pointed out what he called were its several positives. Mr Azad said he does not respond to others’ comments.