Sinha led delegation stopped from visiting Pulwama, Budgam

Group says have been restricted to hotel in Srinagar

SRINAGAR: The J&K government on Saturday barred a delegation led by a former BJP leader and minister Yashwant Sinha to access ground situation outside Srinagar.
The delegation which arrived in the Valley a day ago comprises of former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, journalist Bharat Bushan, and civil society member Kapil Kak.
On Saturday, they were stopped by police when they came out from a hotel in Srinagar where they were putting up.
Sinha told Kashmir Reader that they have been confined to their hotel so far and not allowed to have a visit and meet people in the field.
“We were scheduled to visit Pulwama for planned meetings with local people, but were told not to go because it is a volatile area,” he said.
According to him, they decided to visit Budgam but were not allowed to go there as well.
“We had no choice but to remain confined. So far, we have met many people at the hotel but are yet to build our consensus on the Kashmir situation,” said the former finance minister in NDA government led by AB Vajpayee.
In his three-day visit, Sinha said he has planned to visit Shopian, Anantnag, and other places, and build an understanding about the Kashmir situation from the ground zero.
The leaders are part of the Concerned Citizens Group and have arrived nearly four months after the government of India (GoI) removed the special constitutional status and downsized the state into two union territories. The delegation was barred from arriving in the Valley earlier.
Since August, business establishments and educational institutions have remained shut. Internet and pre-paid phones remain suspended and dozens of political leaders remains detained. They include former three chief ministers comprising Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Wajahat Habibullah told Kashmir Reader that the situation is sad as people are suffering due to the collapse of business, impaired communication channels has hampered their movement.
“We are restricted to Srinagar,” he said.
Kak, said that the group who was here to find out the credibility of the Kashmir normalcy statements coming from incumbent dispensation has not been allowed them go and meet people.
“This is not normalcy. We have been barred from going to meet people since we have arrived here on the advisory that there is an ‘impending militant threat,” he told Kashmir Reader.
“So far we have not concluded our assessment, but I believe that injustice has been done to people of Jammu and Kashmir by the revocation of Article 370. Its fallouts to what extent can go remain unseen given how Kashmiris have shown their discontent by staying away from the normal life,” he added.

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