New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Jammu and Kashmir, but said he cannot hold any political rally there.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said the former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister can visit four districts -- Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla, Anantnag -- to meet people.
The bench, also comprising justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, was told by senior advocate A M Singhvi, who was appearing for Azad, that he wants to meet the people and inquire about their welfare. Singhvi said Azad had tried to visit the state thrice, but was turned back from the airport.
“I am thankful to the Supreme Court. I would like to thank my team of lawyers for filing the petition. There was no politics involved in my petition. I have many issues to talk about but I raised the matter on humanitarian grounds. I raised the voice on behalf of the people of Kashmir through this petition,” Azad said after the court’s ruling.
“Lakhs of people are jobless as tourism is shut in Jammu and Kashmir…my petition spoke about it. Phones and internet services are down and it’s a matter of concern,” he said.
“Leaders who can raise their voices are under arrest. I went to the Valley but was stopped from entering the state. I have specifically mentioned in my petition that I am not going to meet my family. My visit is merely on humanitarian grounds,”
Azad, who filed the petition in his personal capacity, had said on Sunday that it was "apolitical". In his plea, Azad has also sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members and relatives.
In his petition before the top court, Azad has also sought permission to check on social conditions after a clampdown was imposed by the authorities following the scrapping of the state's special status.