Sinha, touring Valley with Concerned Citizens Group, says economy chain of state lies shattered.
Srinagar: Former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha on Friday said that the situation on ground in Kashmir Valley appears to be quite in contrast to what home minister, Amit Shah, claimed on the floor of Parliament earlier this week.
Mr Sinha, who is in the Valley at the head of a pressure group which calls itself “Concerned Citizens Group”, said, “It appears Kashmir picture presented in Parliament is totally averse to the ground reality.”
He said that when he and other members of the team were on way to the hotel from the Srinagar airport, they saw all the shops were closed and that only a few vendors were selling vegetables at some places. “We feel that the entire chain on which Kashmir economy is dependent stands disrupted,” he said.
Mr Sinha and former chief information commissioner and former chairman of national minorities commission Wajahat Habibullah said that the group is in the Valley to assess the actual ground situation. The other members of the group on the Valley’s four day visit are Kapil Kak, retired Air Vice-Marshal, Bharat Bhushan, senior journalist and former editor of Catchnews, and Sushobha Barve, executive program director of Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation.
Mr Habibullah said that suspension of democratic liberties of people is a matter of great concern for him. “Since we just arrived and are yet to get the actual mood on ground. But I believe the democratic liberties of people must not be muzzled. If democratic rights are denied to the people it is a big concern,” he said.
Mr Sinha had tried to reach out to the people of the Valley also in September but he was detained at the Srinagar airport for more than five hours before being sent back to Delhi. However, the three other members of the concerned citizens group including Mr Kak, Mr Bhushan and Ms Barve were were allowed to enter the City and meet the people. Mr Habibullah was in the group then but had visited the Valley on his own a couple of weeks before.
Recalling the September 19 incident, Mr Sinha said, “I tried to visit Srinagar in then but I was not allowed by the Centre and the J&K administration. We have been allowed to visit Srinagar now. During next four days, we will do an independent assessment of the situation and see the nature of economic losses suffered by farmers and industrialists and how average Kashmiris have suffered”.
He, however, also said that Kashmir has been under the grip of uncertainty since August 5 when Article 370 was abrogated and J&K was split into two Union Territories. “We will assess the actual ground situation and present the same to the people of India,” he said.
He said that the group would try to seek permission from the authorities for meeting various political leaders of the Valley who have been detained. He said that he spoke to National Conference president Farooq Abdullah over the phone and it appeared he was high in spirits and “we will try to meet him in person soon.”
He said, “Political leaders including three former chief ministers continue to serve detention since August 5”.