Kashmir situation worse than in 1965, '71 war: Azad (Lead)

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Thursday returned to Delhi after he was stopped at the Srinagar airport and said that the condition in the Valley is worse than what it was during the 1965 and 1971 wars as the people have been locked in their homes following a curfew in most of the districts.

Speaking to reporters at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here after his arrival from Srinagar, Azad said: "We went to Srinagar so that we could speak with our party leaders. The black law that the NDA government brought has wiped out Kashmir from the Indian map as a state."

He said he left for Srinagar along with Jammu and Kashmir party chief Ghulam Ahmed Mir, but were stopped at the Srinagar airport with senior officials saying they have orders not to permit them to enter the city.

"So we took the evening flight and reached Delhi around 6 p.m." he said.

Azad was stopped at the Srinagar airport after he arrived to hold a meeting with Congress leaders over the Central government's decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate the state.

Slamming the government over the curfew in the state, the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister said, "When a flight enters Kashmir it flies low, from Qazigund to Srinagar for over 80 km strectch. On that 80 km stretch I cannot find a single vehicle during my journey. We have seen wars in 1965, 1971 and then in 1999 when vehicles plied on highways and other roads of the state. But I could not see any vehicvle plying on those highways this time."

He said the passengers who met him at the airport said no one can come out of their homes and that they cannot visit the residence of any other people.

"Seems Modi ji has brought such a law through which they have imposed curfew in 22 districts of the state. Under which law can you keep people under curfew for three days and say that they are celebrating?" Azad asked.

"Bringing out three-four people on the streets by offering something is not the reality," he said, flaying National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

Earlier in the day, before leaving the national capital, he stirred a controversy while severely criticizing the government over its move on Jammu and Kashmir.

He also dismissed as of no significance Doval's meeting with residents and his informal eating out with Kashmiri civilians at Shopian a day earlier."By giving money, you can take anyone with you," Azad said.

On Wednesday, Doval was seen having lunch with local residents, apparently in a bid to show that normalcy was slowly returning to the Valley.

Doval was in Kashmir to assess the security situation in the state, which was put under curfew hours ahead of the government's announcement. All communication, including the Internet and telephone connections, have been suspended.

--IANS

aks/prs

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