Monday, 30th October 2017

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Kashmir not yet normal, says Yashwant Sinha

Former Union minister allowed to visit Valley

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 23.11.19, 1:48 AM
  • Updated 23.11.19, 1:48 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Sinha in Srinagar (PTI)

The first high-profile politician allowed to visit the Valley without curbs in nearly four months has delivered a damning verdict about Union home minister Amit Shah’s claim of total normality here.

“Normalcy is a state of mind. People must feel normal, they go about their business normally, they earn their wages normally, their children go to school normally. That is normalcy. None of this is happening here,” former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha told The Telegraph.

The administration of lieutenant governor G.C. Murmu allowed a delegation led by Sinha, who heads Concerned Citizens Group, to visit the Valley.

During his earlier attempt, Sinha was forcibly sent back by the authorities from Srinagar airport, although some other members, including Bharat Bhushan, Kapil Kak and Sushobha Barve, had faced no hurdles.

The authorities also lifted the nearly four-month-old curbs on offering Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, although people stayed away from the prayers.

A member of the mosque management said the Imam was asked to lead the prayers but there were no Friday prayers as some people would sell it as a “sign of normalcy”. “We also want them to release Mirwaiz Umar Farooq (the chief priest) from house arrest,” he said.

Former finance minister Sinha said he found the situation far from normal in the Valley.

Of late, there were pronounced signs of normality here but the Valley was shut on the past two days, apparently in reaction to Shah’s Parliament speech.

Sinha said the Centre was committing a grave injustice on the people of Kashmir as they are being made to “live without Internet and SMS in this age”.

“All this is injustice,” he said.

The former BJP leader said if Kashmir was (relatively) peaceful, the credit of that “goes entirely to the people of Kashmir”. “It is they who have behaved maturely,” he said.

He earlier told reporters that people have shown maturity in the face of “grave injustice” and “violation of the Indian Constitution by the Centre,” apparently referring to revocation of state’s special status.

Sinha thanked the government for allowing him to visit the Valley and said the delegation would try to meet jailed politicians, including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The former finance minister was forced to return to Delhi on September 17, the authorities then claiming their visit could disturb peace and tranquillity here. The other members of the group had then said they were briefly detained at the airport before they were allowed to travel to Srinagar.

The government had earlier disallowed several politicians, including Rahul Gandhi, from visiting the Valley. Some politicians could visit later but there were curbs on their free movement.