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Yashwant Sinha-led Delegation Not Allowed to Visit Pulwama, Police Cites Possibility of Terror Attack

The Jammu and Kashmir Police cited the 'volatility' and 'impending terrorist threat' to the delegation in the area it was trying to visit as reason for not giving permission.

Aakash Hassan | News18@Aakashhassan

Updated:November 23, 2019, 11:32 PM IST
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Yashwant Sinha-led Delegation Not Allowed to Visit Pulwama, Police Cites Possibility of Terror Attack
Indian Civil Society delegation member Wajahat Habibullah visits a market to asses the ground situation, in Srinagar, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Image: PTI Photo)

Srinagar: A day after their arrival here to assess the situation in Kashmir, the police on Saturday did not allow a five-member delegation led by former foreign minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha to move out of its hotel citing the possibility of a terror attack.

The delegation wanted to visit south Kashmir’s Pulwama and central Kashmir's Budgam districts when its members were stopped by police personnel and not allowed to move out of the hotel premises. The police cited the “volatility” and “impending terrorist threat” to them in the area they were trying to visit as reason for not giving them permission.

Dismissing the police claims of a terrorist threat, Sinha said “they are afraid of reality”.

“In all our previous trips, nobody has ever stopped us from going anywhere. And if any advisory was necessary, they would tell us about the threat and necessary steps,” Sinha said, terming the police security advisory as a means to prevent him from meeting people and getting a real sense of the situation in Kashmir.

“I remember going to Anantnag (a few years ago) soon after a terrorist incident had taken place. There were police personnel, they guided us to take another route. That kind of advice can be taken and not this,” he said.

The civil society delegation, led by Sinha, arrived here on Friday to assess the situation in the Valley and the economic losses suffered by the people over the last three months after the shutdown following the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 on August 5.

Sinha is accompanied by members of the ‘Concerned Citizens’ Group’, including former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, former Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, and journalists Bharat Bhushan and Sushoba Bharve.

After meeting members of the business community in Srinagar on Friday, Sinha had rejected the statement of Union Home Minster Amit Shah, which said that the situation in Kashmir is normal. “The situation is far from normal,” he had said.

After their arrival in Srinagar, Sinha told News18 that the security personnel have been “insisting” that the former minister reveal his schedule.

“We told them in the evening that our programme is to visit Pulwama today. So, at about 9 pm, I received a written communication from the office of the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of security,” he said.

The letter mentioned that they “are intending to take a journey to some terrorism-prone villages in distt. (district) Pulwama”.

“Keeping in view the volatility of the area and an impending terrorist threat, I am directed by SSP Security, Kashmir, to strongly advise you to refrain from taking any such journey which would jeopardise your safety and security,” the letter, issued by a security official, said. A copy of the communication is with News18.

After the security advisory for Pulwama, the delegation decided to visit central Kashmir’s Budgam, but the police did not even allow that.

“In the morning, we had discussions with lots of security people present here and finally we decided we will not go to Pulwama. Instead, we fixed up a programme to go to a place in Budgam district and we told them,” Sinha told News18. “We sat in our cars but were told by security people that Budgam is also terrorism affected and you can’t go.”

The police, Sinha said, told them the “general direction is that you can’t go out of Srinagar”.

“As far as Srinagar is concerned, they told us: ‘please let us know where you are going’,” Sinha said. He added that the security, as of now, “did not allow the hotel gate to open”.

“We waited in our taxies for an hour and tried to reason, but they did not listen,” he said.

Sinha in September was held back at Srinagar airport and not allowed to visit the Valley.

The BJP leader said if the people in the Valley continue to follow the Gandhian mode of “pacifist resistance” and “non-violence”, the central government will be prompted to bend and “undo the damage” they have done in the erstwhile state.

Sinha on Friday said he spoke on phone with former chief minister and Srinagar MP Farooq Abdullah, who has been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) at his residence, and Communist leader MY Tarigami.

Sinha said he has not been allowed to meet political leaders in J&K currently under detention. “We spoke to Farooq and Tarigami and wanted to visit them, but permission was not granted,” he said.

On the previous reports filed by him on the Kashmir situation, Sinha said they have no hopes from the government.

“We are not going to break some Himalaya this time. We have been preparing reports about the reality of the ground and presenting it before the people of the country (in the past),” he said, stating “that is the motive”.

“We are not part of the government and this time as well we will do the same,” he said.

Sinha expressed dismay over the decision to abrogate Article 370 and revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. “In our previous reports, we stated that the only way to bring peace in Kashmir is (through) dialogue, but instead the government did something totally against it,” he said.

Sinha said “something like (Article) 370 should be applied in all states” and not just Jammu and Kashmir.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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