Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad was stopped at Srinagar airport on Thursday and was asked to return to Delhi, PTI reported, quoting his party leaders. Azad had arrived in the city to meet Congress workers.
Srinagar and the rest of Jammu and Kashmir have been under a security and information blockade since Sunday night. The following day, the Centre amended the Constitution to take away Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in the Union of India.
Around 400 people have been reportedly detained across the state as “precaution”, and former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah remain in custody at safehouses, NDTV reported. “The people of Jammu and Kashmir are sad. I am going there to be a part of their sadness, to be with them,” Azad told reporters. “Probably for the first time, all 22 districts have seen a curfew. Have you heard of this before?”
Earlier in the day, Azad drew the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ire for alleging that Kashmiris were bribed for appearing in viral pictures and videos with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval in Shopian district.
Meanwhile, the police detained several people after they began a protest march in Kargil against the scrapping of special status to Kashmir, PTI reported. Over 300 people took out a rally under the banner of the Joint Action Committee, defying prohibitory orders. A minor clash broke out between the police and protestors, following which the demonstrators were detained.
“We wanted a united state,” National Conference leader Qamar Ali Akhoon said. “Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir should be one entity. We are fighting for restoration of Article 370.”
Kargil District Congress President Nasir Hussain Munshi claimed the Centre has violated the fundamental rights of Kashmiris. “They are violating our right to expression,” he said. “Today we took out a peaceful rally to protest against the revoking of Article 370, but were stopped from taking out the rally.”
The state government had imposed prohibitory orders in Kargil district on Wednesday amid the intense security clampdown that was detailed in a news report written by a Kashmiri journalist for the Time magazine.
“The online homepage of Kashmir’s largest local paper is blank and the website of our own magazine has been offline since Monday,” wrote Fahad Shah, the founder and editor of The Kashmir Walla. “Many journalists like me have had to send out work on thumb drives with passengers flying out of the area by airplane. Only a small group of people using satellite dish networks have access to TV news channels. Speaker mounted vehicles are making announcements warning people not to venture out. There is no way to know or confirm if the situation has remained peaceful. Amid no communication, anxiety fills the air in the Valley.”