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Need freedom to travel, not plane: Rahul Gandhi on Governor Malik’s offer

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday responded to a comment from Jammu & Kashmir governor Satyapal Malik the day before that the Congress leader would do well to visit the region before speaking on the situation there by saying he and a group of opposition leaders would do that, provided they were allowed to travel freely across the state which has witnessed a communications blackout and restrictions on movement since August 5.

On Monday, Malik also offered to send Gandhi a plane (to travel to Kashmir). “You are a responsible person and you should not speak like this,” Malik said, referencing Gandhi’s comments on reports of violence in the Kashmir valley.

Gandhi’s response came on Tuesday. He has spent the past few days in his constituency Wayanad in Kerala which has been devastated by floods and landslides. “Dear Governor Malik, A delegation of opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh,” Gandhi wrote on social media. “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,” Gandhi tweeted.

Malik didn’t respond to this but a statement from Raj Bhawan accused Gandhi of politicising the incident. “Shri Rahul Gandhi was responding to fake news possibly spread from across the border about the situation in Kashmir, which is peaceful with negligible incidents. He can check for himself from various Indian channels which have reported the correct position in the Kashmir valley. He can also check detailed submissions made by the government in the Supreme Court today which heard a case on this matter and left it to government,” the statement said. It added that Gandhi was “politicising the matter by seeking to bring a delegation of opposition leaders to create further unrest and problems for the common people. He has put forth many conditions for visiting J&K, including meeting mainstream leaders under detention”.

The statement also said that given the conditions, the governor has “referred the case to the local police and administration to examine the request further.”

On August 5, the government scrapped the special status to Jammu & Kashmir. The changes were passed by both houses of Parliament on August 6. The J&K administration has thus far turned back from Srinagar airport opposition leaders, Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress and Sitaram Yechury and D Raja from the Left parties.

On Tuesday, the Congress urged the government to initiate a political dialogue and demanded an all-party meeting, and asked the Centre to take the leaders of national parties into full confidence on the issue. “The government has been complaining about disinformation and rumours and the best answer to that is let an all-party delegation and also media go and meet people,” said party spokesperson Anand Sharma.

First Published:
Aug 14, 2019 00:38 IST

Source: HindustanTimes