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Ex Union Minister Yashwant Sinha Reaches Srinagar, May Meet Detained Leaders

Yashwant Sinha in this file photo

Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha, who was forced to return from Srinagar airport by the Jammu and Kashmir administration in September,  reached the summer capital of the Union Territory on Friday where he will assess the ground situation following abrogation of Article 370.

Sinha, who quit the BJP in 2008, was accompanied by other  members of the Concerned Citizens Group including former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah, journalist Bharat Bhushan and civil society activist Kapil Kak.

“On way to Srinagar, Kashmir with the Concerned Citizens Group to make an independent assessment of the situation on the ground and the economic loss caused by govt’s action. Hope will be allowed to enter,” Sinha had tweeted earlier in the day.

The four-member team is on a four-day visit to the state to assess the ground situation in the region after the central government nullified Article 370, which gave the erstwhile state special powers.

As of now, Sinha and others are meeting locals in the Valley. They will also try and meet the mainstream political leaders in detention, a source said, reported Indian Express. The members of the Concerned Citizens’ Group plan to return on November 25 and release their report on the ground situation in the region, the former Union minister had earlier said.

After he was ‘forcibly’ sent back from Srinagar by the Jammu and Kashmir administration earlier, the former minister said he was deported as if he was a “hijacker” and “terrorist”. “When we reached there, a person came to me and introduced himself as the Deputy Commissioner of Budgam. There were other police officials with him. He said he is my admirer. But I sensed that there is something wrong. Then he said that others can go to Kashmir but you cannot be allowed,” Sinha had told The Indian Express.

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On August 5, the central government announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories, J&K and Ladakh.

Ahead of announcing the decision, the government had imposed security and communication blockade in J&K, which were relaxed subsequently. However, pre-paid mobile phones and all the Internet services continued to remain suspended since August 5.

Most top level and second rung separatist politicians are in preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.

The government has detained former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah under the controversial Public Safety act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.

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