The Supreme Court on Monday allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu, ANI reported. However, the top court restrained him from carrying out any political activities.
The bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, said that by his own submission, Azad will not “make any speeches or hold any public rally”. Azad has tried to visit the state three times so far, but has been stopped and sent back to New Delhi every time.
Jammu and Kashmir was put under prohibitory orders and an unprecedented communications blackout on August 4. On August 5, the Centre scrapped the special status granted to the state under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and imposed a lock down in the state. Prohibitory orders are being lifted gradually but the communications blockade remains in most parts.
However, Azad said in his submission to the Supreme Court that he wishes to check on local conditions in the state after the revocation of Article 370, Live Law reported. “I have filed my petition in my personal capacity, not on behalf of the Congress,” Azad said. “It has nothing to do with politics and is based purely on humanitarian grounds. I tried thrice to go to my home state but was refused permission. Almost one-third of Kashmiri people are lakhs who do labour to earn their daily livelihood and nobody is bothered to know how they are surviving.”
Later, Azad told reporters that he was not going to Kashmir to family members, and would present his report before the top court when he returns, PTI reported. “For those lakhs of people, I had put in this request because the state government has put all representatives, party leaders from Kashmir Valley and also in Jammu under detention.”
Azad claimed that no Bharatiya Janata Party leader had been detained. “They [Politicians] cannot raise their voice so who will speak for the people?” Azad asked. “The government is not bothered about this section, so I put in the request before the Supreme Court.”
“I am thankful to Supreme Court for permitting me to travel to Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu districts,” the Congress leader added. “Whatever report I get from there I will present it before the Supreme Court and probably then they can tell the government if there is a way to arrange for food for these people.”
Last month, the Supreme Court allowed Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and a law student to visit Srinagar. It also allowed Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter Iljita to visit her mother.