Initiate Political Dialogue on Jammu and Kashmir, Congress Tells Centre

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Anand Sharma. — File photo

Opposition leaders should be allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir and speak to the people there, said Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma

NEW DELHI (PTI) — The Congress has urged the government to initiate political dialogue on the Jammu and Kashmir issue by taking opposition leaders into confidence and allowing them to visit the state freely.

Senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma on Tuesday said opposition leaders should be allowed to visit Jammu and Kashmir and speak to the people there and demanded immediate release of all leaders placed under house arrest in the Valley so that they could voice their opinion.

“Since the government has imposed restrictions in the first place and taken this one-sided decision, we urge the government to initiate a political dialogue and take leaders of all opposition parties into confidence,” he said.

Mr Sharma said there were concerns for Jammu and Kashmir — now a Union territory after the government decided to withdraw the special status accorded to the state under Article 370 of the Constitution — as there was a complete shutdown, news blackout, and the entire communication network was shut down.

“Any political leader does not need the hospitality of the governor. We demand that the government allow opposition leaders to visit Jammu and Kashmir freely so that the nation and the world can know if all is well there or if there is any cause of concern,” he added.
The Congress leader said the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had allied with the National Conference (NC) during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the Narendra Modi government and that was why they recognised these as Indian political parties that abided by the Constitution.

“It will be best that the government takes these steps. It has been nine days since the decision,” he said.

Questioning why opposition leaders were stopped at the Srinagar airport and not allowed to proceed any further, Mr Sharma said, “This is not good for India’s image. Every citizen has constitutional rights. While we request citizens to abide by the law, the government should respect their constitutional rights.”

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