Saturday, 24 Aug, 3.18 am HW English

Article 370: Rahul Gandhi, Opposition leaders to visit Srinagar

New Delhi| Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and senior leaders of several other opposition parties will visit Kashmir on Saturday to take stock of the situation in the valley. The visit comes almost three weeks after the removal of the key provisions of Article 370. According to sources, apart from Gandhi, senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad and Anand Sharma and KC Venugopal are also going.

These leaders are scheduled to reach Srinagar in the afternoon. A source said that if permission is granted to enter Srinagar, then all the leaders including Rahul Gandhi will take stock of the situation there and meet local leaders and residents. This delegation of opposition leaders will include CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, RJD's Manoj Jha, DMK's Tiruchi Siva, Trinamool Congress's Dinesh Trivedi and leaders of some other parties.

Rahul Gandhi's visit to Srinagar comes in the wake of Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik inviting Rahul Gandhi to visit the region. Rahul Gandhi had demanded a transparent answer from PM Modi on the situation of Jammu and Kashmir after reports of violence circulated in media. However, Satya Pal Malik had slammed Gandhi saying he is politicizing the matter. He even said that he will send an aeroplane for Rahul Gandhi. Replying to it, Rahul Gandhi had said that he does not need a plane but freedom to travel.

Ahead of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories, the government had put several politicians under house arrest. Many leaders including former Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti were detained or put under house arrest. In order to maintain law and order, heavy security forces were deployed in many areas of the state and mobile and internet services were suspended.

Leaders of several opposition parties, including the Congress, had also demonstrated here on Thursday demanding the release of detained leaders in Jammu and Kashmir. Senior Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI General Secretary D Raja, SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav, Sharad Yadav of Loktantrik Janata Dal, Manoj Jha of Rashtriya Janata Dal and Dinesh Trivedi of Trinamool Congress participated in the protest.

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