Press Trust of India

Situation ‘very bad’ in Kashmir: Azad

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Says he was not allowed free movement by admin

Jammu: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday reached here on the second-leg of his six-day tour of Jammu and Kashmir and said the situation in the Valley is “very bad”.
Azad, the leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had reached Srinagar on Friday on his maiden visit to the state after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
His three earlier bids to reach Srinagar had failed as he had been turned back from the airport by the authorities.
When asked by reporters as to what was his assessment of the situation in Kashmir, Azad replied, “It is very bad.”
“I do not have to say anything to media right now. I spent four days in Kashmir and arrived here to spend two more days in Jammu. After the end of the six-day tour, I will say whatever I have to say,” he told reporters outside his residence here.
In response to another question about submitting of his assessment report of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to the Supreme Court, the former state chief minister said a decision on this would be taken after his return to Delhi.
“I was not even allowed by the administration to visit 10 per cent of the places where I had planned to go in the valley during my stay there,” he said.
Asked about detention of political leaders and curbs on political activities, Azad said, “There is no mark of freedom of speech in Jammu and Kashmir.”
Azad’s visit became possible after the Supreme Court on September 16 allowed him to tour the state.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had allowed the Congress leader to visit four districts — Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla, Anantnag — to meet people.
The bench had been told by Azad’s counsel and senior advocate A M Singhvi that the Congress leader wants to meet people and inquire about their welfare.
In his petition filed in his “personal capacity”, Azad had told the Supreme Court that he had tried to visit the state thrice, but was turned back from the airport.
A senior Congress leader said Azad will restrict his visit to Jammu district alone as per the Supreme Court directive.
“He will hold meetings with party activists and will be interacting with cross-section of people to assess the situation,” he said.
He said it is unfortunate that Azad had to seek the permission from the apex court to visit his home state, where majority of the mainstream political leaders have been placed under detention or house arrest since the scrapping of the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and its bifurcation into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. (PTI)

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