Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi after returning to Delhi (image: ANI)

The delegation of opposition leaders, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, which was visiting Kashmir was sent back to Delhi from the Srinagar airport Saturday evening.

The 12-member delegation which had left for Kashmir earlier in the day to see the ground situation in the region was not allowed to enter the state.

As it so happened, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Governor Satya Pal Malik had sent an “invitation” to Rahul Gandhi after apprehensions about the state of affairs in the region were raised in the parliament by the opposition including Rahul.

The opposition had claimed that there were reports of suspension of basic rights and liberties of the people as well as mass protests erupting in the aftermath of the central government scrapping the special status of Kashmir and bifurcating it into two union territories.

After their return to Delhi, Rahul said that it was “clear” that the situation in J&K “isn’t normal”. He clarified that all that the delegation wanted to do was to ascertain a sense of what the “people were going through”, yet they were not allowed beyond the airport.

Rahul claimed that the reporters were “manhandled” and “beaten”, which gave a clear picture that the situation is far from normal.

J&K’s Congress unit criticized the government for not allowing the delegation to witness the ground reality when the government has repeatedly claimed that the situations are getting normal and that there is “peace in most parts of the state”.

Strongly opposing the treatment meted out to them, the delegation wrote a letter to the District Magistrate of Budgam, calling their detention as “undemocratic and unconstitutional”. The letter said the detention also amounted to “violation of our fundamental rights”.

The letter further asserted that the opposition leaders were elected representatives and their intentions were “entirely peaceful and humanitarian”. They were visiting with an aim to expedite the process of returning the region into “normalcy”.

In an order by the government, the delegation had been asked to return. The delegation said the motives attributed to them in the order were “baseless and lack substance”

Earlier, J&K governor had said that there was “no need for Rahul Gandhi to come to Srinagar anymore” as the arrival of a delegation meant nothing more but a “political action”.

Malik said the former Congress President no more needed now but was needed earlier when his colleague spoke in the Parliament. He said it is not good on the part of Rahul to “aggravate the situation” by coming there to repeat lies.

The J&K governor went on to say that he had invited the Congress leader “out of goodwill”, but that Rahul “started doing politics”.

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