JAMMU – Senior Congress leader and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday said there is no democracy in Jammu and Kashmir and people are living in fear after the Centre scrapped the state’s special status on August 5.
Azad was talking to the media as he concluded his six-day tour of the state.
“There is disappointment in Kashmir and the despair is also prevalent among the people in Jammu province. Except 100 or 200 people of the ruling party (BJP), nobody is happy (over the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories),” the former chief minister told reporters before leaving for Delhi.
Azad, who had on Tuesday arrived in Jammu on the second-leg of his tour, had said the situation in Kashmir is “very bad”.
The Congress leader had reached Srinagar on Friday on his maiden visit to the Valley after the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.
His three earlier bids to reach Srinagar had failed as he had been turned back from the airport by the authorities.
“I have not seen such a terror of the administration anywhere in the world. Democracy is nowhere in the state after the change in its status. It has vanished from the state,” Azad said.
He claimed that the people are afraid of talking, feeling that someone was going to tip-off the government about it.
“With the change in the status, the voices have also been suppressed and there is no place for freedom of speech, freedom of expression or freedom of agitation,” he said.
“Even if somebody is talking about normal protests over the demands for electricity and water, he is asked which jail he wants to go in India,” the Congress leader alleged.
Soon after his arrival here from Kashmir where he spent four days, Azad had said, “I have not even been allowed by the administration to visit 10 per cent of the places where I had planned to go in the valley during my stay there.”
Azad’s visit became possible after the Supreme Court on September 16 allowed him to tour the state.
A bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, had allowed the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha to visit four districts — Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla, Anantnag — to meet people.
The bench had been told by Azad’s counsel and senior advocate A M Singhvi that the Congress leader wants to meet people and inquire about their welfare.
In his petition filed in his “personal capacity”, Azad had told the Supreme Court that he had tried to visit the state thrice, but was turned back from the airport.
A number of delegations representing various sections of the society including traders, transporters and border residents met Azad at his residence here.
Azad also visited traders of Raghunath Bazar, Purani Mandi, Residency Road and other areas of the city to know about their difficulties in the prevailing situation in the state, a congress spokesman said.