- Rahul Gandhi, 11 opposition leaders sent back from Srinagar airport
- Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Dinesh Trivedi among those who went to Srinagar
- "Things not normal in J&K": Rahul Gandhi after being sent back
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and other opposition leaders, who were sent back to Delhi soon after they landed at Srinagar airport on Saturday, were seen negotiating with officials to allow them to leave the airport to assess the situation in the valley.
A video shared by the Congress on social media shows Mr Gandhi, the former Congress president, unsuccessfully trying to convince authorities that he reached there after he was invited by Governor Satya Pal Malik to witness that normalcy was restored after weeks of restrictions over the government's decision to end special status for Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two territories.
"The thing is, the government has invited me. The Governor has said that I am invited. Toh ab main aaya hoon. Phir aap keh rahein hai ki main nahi aa sakte hain (So I have now come here and you are telling that I cannot come.) And the government is saying that everything is okay here, everything is normal. If everything is normal, why are we not allowed out? It's a bit surprising," Mr Gandhi can be seen telling a police officer and another officer.
The govt is saying everything is okay here & everything is normal. If everything is normal why are we not allowed out?: Shri @RahulGandhi— Congress (@INCIndia) August 24, 2019
Was it not Governor Satya Pal Malik that invited Mr. Gandhi to come to J&K and assess the situation for himself? #RahulGandhiWithJnKpic.twitter.com/jneIkpOJve
Apart from Rahul Gandhi,11 opposition leaders including Sitaram Yechury of the Left, CPI's D Raja, the DMK's Tiruchi Siva, the Rashtriya Janata Dal's Manoj Jha and Dinesh Trivedi from the Trinamool Congress were part of the delegation.
Many of them were seen surrounding Mr Gandhi as he spoke to the officials in what appeared to be the airport lounge.
"We want to go to any area that is peaceful and meet 10 to 15 people. We don't want to do anything more. If it's 144 ( Section 144), then I am ready to go individually...we will go individually," Mr Gandhi says.'
"Yeah, yeah, everybody will go...," Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress chips in.
Opposition leaders, who had flown to take stock of the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, alleged that they were detained at the airport in Srinagar in an ''unconstitutional'' and ''undemocratic'' manner.
After returning to Delhi, Mr Gandhi said the administration's move to turned them back proved the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir was "not normal". Governor Malik said Mr Gandhi's visit was political.
"I had invited him out of goodwill but he started doing politics. It (their visit) was nothing but a political action by these people. Parties should keep in mind the national interest at these times," Governor Malik was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
"When we were detained at the airport lounge, we demanded to know under what charges we have been detained. We also wanted to see the order's copy. According to the laws, we should have been given a copy of the same but we were not given a copy. They read it out and requested us not to insist on getting a copy," Mr Yechury said.
Earlier this month, the Governor and Mr Gandhi had a back-and-forth after the Congress leader said he would come with an opposition delegation and would like to be able to travel freely. Too many "pre-conditions," Governor Malik said, adding that he had "withdrawn" his invitation to him to visit and "observe" before speaking about violence in the state.
Some 400 politicians, including former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been under arrest for nearly three weeks. It is not clear when they will be released. The restrictions are still in place at several areas in the state.
The Jammu And Kashmir Information and Public Relations Department had on Friday tweeted political leaders should not "not visit Srinagar as they would be putting other people to inconvenience" at a "time when the government is trying to protect the people of Jammu and Kashmir from the threat of cross border terrorism and attacks..."