National

There is an atmosphere of fear in the Valley: Azad

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on September 30, 2019 Published on September 30, 2019

Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha and former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad, who visited the State after receiving favourable directions from the Supreme Court (SC), said there’s an atmosphere of fear in the Valley. He said ever since the announcement of the State becoming an UT, the Centre has been imposing its decisions on the local administration.

Azad, who visited various parts of the State, said he will file a detailed report for the apex court. “Most government guest houses in Kashmir were converted into prisons, political leaders are being held there. All my conversations with people were being recorded, so who would dare to speak the truth?” he asked.

Azad had been denied a visit to the State thrice after the abrogation of Article 370. He approached the Supreme Court, which allowed him to visit four districts — Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla and Anantnag.

Livelihood issues

Talking to reporters at AICC headquarters on Monday, the senior leader said only a handful of BJP leaders in the State are happy with the abrogation of Article 370. “I brought it to the SC’s attention that many people, most of them daily wage labourers, don’t have food as their livelihood has been affected. The government tried its best to preventthese people from meeting me,” he said.

“I will share all these names and details with the SC. I don’t wish to share these details here as I don’t want to cause them any further trouble. They are already struggling to make ends meet, lest they be picked up by the authorities if I say anything here,” he added.

He said only food shops are being opened in J&K. “Since they open for a couple of hours only, there’s a mad rush — passed off as everything is normal in J&K,” he said.

“We demand that food be provided free of cost; internet and telephone services be resumed; schools and colleges be reopened and exams postponed. We want all leaders to be released; bank loan, EMIs for business owners be delayed; and interest rates be reduced,” he said.

He also condemned the administration’s decision to hold Block Development Council elections even as blockades continue. “Elections were announced yesterday (Sunday), when leaders of all parties were under house arrest. This is the first delimitation that has been carried out without involving the main political party leaders,” he said and added: “No BJP leader has been placed under house arrest, and they are campaigning. How is this democratic?”

Published on September 30, 2019

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