‘Will reach out to common people’
STATE TIMES NEWS New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was on Monday allowed by the Supreme Court to visit four districts in Jammu and Kashmir for assessing the impact on life of daily wagers due to the present situation prevailing after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions. The top court noted Azad’s submission that he will not indulge in any political rally or political activity during his visit. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S A Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer issued a notice to the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration, and sought their response within two weeks on other issues raised in the petition. The bench allowed Azad to visit Srinagar, Anantnag, Baramulla and Jammu districts of the state subject to restrictions, if any. “We permit the petitioner to go to Srinagar and visit the following districts, subject to restrictions, if any:-(i) Srinagar, (ii) Anantnag, (iii) Baramulla and (iv) Jammu. “The petitioner has undertaken before the court on his own volition that he will not indulge in any political rally or political activity during his visit,” the bench said. “The visit will solely be concerned with making an assessment of the impact of the present situation on the life of the daily wage earners, if any,” it said. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the former chief minister said he is at present a Member of Parliament from the state and needs to meet the people.
There are reports that daily wagers involved in farming and working in apple orchards are facing serious problems and loss of livelihood due to the clampdown prevailing in the state, he said.
“I (Azad) am a six-time Member of Parliament and a former chief minister of the state. I as Member of Parliament can visit the whole of India but cannot visit my home state. I need to visit the people.
“I have a fundamental right to meet the people of my state and my constituency and know about their well-being,” Singhvi said on behalf of Azad.
He said Azad had thrice tried to visit the state on August 8, 20 and 24, but was sent back from the airport itself.
There are no orders “prohibiting” Azad from entering the state. If there are no such orders, then under what under provisions can they deny him entry into his state, Singhvi said.
The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir, that Azad wants to visit his home state and undertakes not to hold any political rally.
Mehta said that he has not been served any petition and needs two weeks to reply to the same.
Azad, who has filed the petition in his personal capacity, had said on Sunday that his move was “apolitical”.
In his plea, Azad has also sought a nod from the top court to visit his family members and relatives.
In his petition before the top court, he has also sought permission to check on social conditions of the people after a clampdown was imposed by the authorities following the scrapping of the state’s special status.
Later, Azad said it will be a “humanitarian” trip to reach out to the common people of his state, and he will submit a report to the apex court on his return.
Azad also alleged that the state administration and the Central government were not bothered about the people.
Azad said he is concerned about the communication lines being disrupted in Jammu and Kashmir, but is more worried about the common people and how they were earning their livelihood.
“For those lakhs of people, I had put in this request because the state government has put all representatives, party leaders from Kashmir Valley and also in Jammu under detention,” he said, but added that no BJP leader had been detained.
“They (politicians) cannot raise their voices so who will speak for the people? The government is not bothered about this section, so I put in the request before the Supreme Court,” the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha told reporters here.
“I mentioned in the petition that I am not going to meet family members. I will visit Kashmir on a humanitarian basis,” Azad said.
“I am thankful to the Supreme Court for permitting me to travel to Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu districts. Whatever report I get from there I will present it before the SC and probably then they can tell the government if there is a way to arrange for food for these people,” he said.
On Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi’s statement that if need be he would himself visit J&K to see the situation there, Azad said, “I am very happy and I think so should be everybody in the Kashmir Valley. No less than the CJI has shown his concern and he has felt that he himself should go to Kashmir and see for himself how the things are moving.”
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