Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Tuesday accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of trying to “create unrest” by seeking to bring a delegation of Opposition leaders with him in a visit to the state, PTI reported.
Malik had on Monday accused Gandhi of speaking irresponsibly about violence in the state, and offered to send him an aircraft so that he could “observe and speak up”. In response, earlier on Tuesday, Gandhi declined the offer of an aircraft but asked for “freedom to travel and meet the people”.
“A delegation of Opposition leaders and I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” the Congress leader tweeted. “We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel and meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there.”
Hours later, Malik lashed out at Gandhi saying he had never invited him with “so many pre-conditions”. He also referred the matter to police and the local administration. “Rahul Gandhi is politicising the matter by seeking to bring a delegation of opposition leaders to create further unrest and problems for the common people,” Malik said.
The matter began with a remark by Gandhi on Saturday, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to assuage people’s concerns following reports of violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Malik had taken objection to this.
Jammu and Kashmir has been in a security lockdown since the Centre withdrew the state’s special status last week. On Tuesday, Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal said that prohibitory conditions have been relaxed in various parts of Kashmir, and the Jammu region is “almost entirely” free of restrictions, PTI reported. He added that the administration is hopeful of further relaxations in the security clampdown after the dress rehearsal for the August 15 Independence Day celebrations conclude.
Since the clampdown, multiple Opposition leaders have been detained or sent back from Srinagar airport when they attempted to visit the state to assess the situation. On Friday, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Communist Party of India leader D Raja were sent back to Delhi after being detained at the Srinagar airport.
A day before the Left leaders were sent back, senior Congress leader and Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad was also stopped at the airport and asked to return to Delhi.