In a statement issued last night, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had asked political leaders to not visit the Valley as it would disturb the gradual restoration of peace. However, Congress state president G A Mir and other party leaders said the government action belies its "repeated claims" that the situation in the Valley has largely "normalised".
"Congress criticises the action of the government to disallow opposition delegation to visit Kashmir in view of its repeated claims that the situation in the valley has normalised to the extent that all government and other institutions are working normally and there is peace in most parts of the state," the J&K Pradesh Congress Committee said in a statement.
Three state unit leaders — Manjit Singh, Vikram Malhotra and Shabbir Ahmed Khan — separately condemned the government action on Saturday, and demanded the removal of restrictions on mobile phone services and allow political activities and press meets of opposition leaders. In the larger interest of democracy to prevail, the opposition should be heard, they said.
"In a democratic country like India, one cannot imagine the treatment to opposition leaders where their rights for political activities are denied under the present government at the Centre, and opposition is not allowed to speak up," they said in the statement. The Congress state unit said it showed the "mindset" of the ruling party in Delhi and the "undemocratic" style of the dispensation. It claimed this was the fourth attempt by the opposition to reach out to the people of J&K since the withdrawal of the special status on August 5.
National Panthers Party chief patron Bhim Singh also expressed shock and anger on the "condemnable" treatment to the opposition leaders at the Srinagar airport. Earlier in the day, the CPI(M) said the 11-member delegation of opposition parties from Delhi was not allowed to leave Srinagar airport by the administration.
The delegation, representing eight political parties — Congress, CPI(M), CPI, DMK, NCP, JD(S), RJD and TMC — had said they were "responding to the invite of the governor of Jammu and Kashmir for visiting the state". They were not allowed despite Governor Satya Pal Malik's "invite", the Congress statement said. On the contrary, the party said, when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre and unrest had erupted in the state, the government had arranged an all-party delegation visit to the state, which included the then opposition BJP.