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  India   All India  18 Sep 2019  Drama at airport, Yashwant Sinha sent back

Drama at airport, Yashwant Sinha sent back

Published : Sep 18, 2019, 2:55 am IST
Updated : Sep 18, 2019, 2:55 am IST

However, three other members of the pressure group which calls itself “Concerned Citizens Group” were allowed to enter the city.

Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha
 Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir authorities on Tuesday detained former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha at Srinagar airport for over five hours before sending him back to Delhi by the last available flight.

However, three other members of the pressure group which calls itself “Concerned Citizens Group” were allowed to enter the city. They are Kapil Kak, retired air vice-marshal, senior journalist Bharat Bhushan, a former editor of Mail Today, and Sushobha Barve, executive programme director of the Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.

The group’s fifth member, former chief information commissioner and former Minorities Commission chief Wajahat Habibullah, was not among the visitors. It is reported that Mr Habibullah was in the Valley on his own recently.

According to Mr Bhushan, the four-member group arrived at the airport by a Vistara flight at 11.40 am. Police officials stopped Mr Sinha from leaving the arrival lounge on the plea that Section 144 CrPc was in force in the concerned district (Budgam), but the others were told “you’re free to go out”.

Mr Sinha asked them to show him a formal order to this effect. After some time, the order was served on the former Union minister. Issued by the deputy commissioner of Budgam, it said: “There are credible inputs from various agencies that the visit of Shri Yashwanr Sinha may have an adverse effect on the law and order situation in the district, which has so far remained by and large peaceful.”

It also said: “There is every possibility that if he is allowed to move beyond the arrival lounge of Srinagar Airport, there can be disturbance of peace and public tranquility in the district.” It added: “Now, therefore, I, District Magistrate Budgam, in exercise of the powers vested in me by virtue of Section 144 CrPc, impose restrictions on the movement of Shri Yashwant Sinha, ex-Union Minister, beyond the arrival lounge of the airport till further orders so as to maintain peace and tranquility in the district.”

But Mr Sinha, on seeing the order, said it did not ask him to return to Delhi and demanded that the DC may hold a court at the airport itself in which he would represent himself. The court was held and Mr Sinha pleaded before it that since the DC’s order didn’t ask him to return to Delhi, he would stay at the airport for the night and return to the capital on Wednesday. He told the DC: “You’re telling me that there is no facility for night stay available at Srinagar airport. I will sleep on a sofa and return to Delhi tomorrow.”

He also said: “These appear to be the worst of times in Kashmir. Things are much worse than what we saw here unfolding last time. We had then met (separatist leader) Syed Ali Shah Geelani also. We want to meet the Kashmiri people who, you say, are happy over the abrogation of Article 370. If you are celebrating Diwali, we also want to light a lamp.”

He also told the official that he was defying his order, leaving no option for him but to arrest him under Section 378.

After a high-voltage drama that lasted several hours, Mr Sinha was served with another order — this time issued by Budgam’s superintendent of police — which said the DC Budgam “imposes restrictions on your movement within the district beyond the arrival lounge of Srinagar International Airport”.

The order served on Mr Sinha at 4.40 pm added: “The Srinagar International Airport has no paid lounge facility or any other facility to stay for the night. In this situation, you are advised to immediately leave the airport and take the flight back to Delhi. District administration Budgam will facilitate your return journey. Srinagar airport is a defence airfield, which is taken over by Central forces in the evening after the operation hours.”

Mr Bhushan said the team would visit various parts of Kashmir and meet as many people as possible for an on-the-spot assessment of the prevailing political and human rights situation in the Valley.

Tags: yashwant sinha, bharat bhushan