Anand Sharma speaking at a press conference in New Delhi
Anand Sharma speaking at a press conference in New Delhi

Congress demands all-party meeting on situation in J-K

ANI | Updated: Aug 13, 2019 23:39 IST

New Delhi [India], Aug 13 (ANI): Congress on Tuesday expressed concern over the "clampdown", "news blackout" and "reports of excesses" in Jammu and Kashmir and said the government should convene an all-party meeting to take the Opposition into confidence over the situation there.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Congress leader Anand Sharma said Opposition leaders should be allowed to visit J-K and Ladakh along with the media.
He said J-K Governor Satya Pal Malik had made a "patronising" invitation to party leader Rahul Gandhi to visit the state.
"He (Gandhi) has not sought the hospitality of the state administration, does not want to go there as a guest but as a political leader to exercise his rights," Sharma noted.
Gandhi has also spoken about the rights of other Opposition leaders to visit J-K, he said.
Sharma said among those detained were two former Chief Ministers who have been partners in coalition governments with BJP and Congress.
"They respect the Constitution. The leaders must be freed from detention. Then only there will be credibility to the Governor's claims," he said.
Sharma said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah should take Opposition leaders into confidence.
"It is high time an all-party meeting should be held in which the Prime Minister and the Home Minister take leaders of national parties into full confidence," he said.
Congress, he said, wants peace and normalcy and does not want any country to take any advantage of the situation.
"Hope all of us have the freedom to tell the world that the situation is peaceful. That is what people want to hear," he said.
Sharma said no claim of the government will be convincing until the "clampdown and blackout" are lifted and the detained leaders freed.
People have not been able to reach their families, he stressed.
"In a country, which is proud of its diversity, a situation must not be allowed that any aspersions are cast on the integrity of its constitutional democracy and commitment of the government to respect fundamental rights of all citizens," he added.
He said the government has been complaining about disinformation and rumours and the best answer to that is to let an all-party delegation visit J-K.
Answering a question that Home Minister Amit Shah has planned to go to Lal Chowk in Srinagar, Sharma said the minister is free to travel anywhere.
"How does it matter? We need a complete reassurance about the normalcy returning and peace prevailing and peoples' rights being fully respected. Home Minister of India is free to travel anywhere. The Opposition leaders must also be given the same right and freedom to travel to the Kashmir valley and to Jammu to meet with the people. You cannot say that everything is normal and not even permit the Opposition leaders and keep the former CMs in detention The Government has to be credible," he said.
He said Jammu and Kashmir had joined India voluntarily, signing the Instrument of Accession, which is a legal instrument created by the British Parliament - the House of Commons when it passed the Union of India Act.
Referring to Article 370, he said it has history. "It was not put there accidentally by someone and that Article itself says that it is temporary but to do away with it the recommendation - the word is 'recommendation' of the Constituent Assembly, which would be the State Assembly, is necessary," he said. (ANI)