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Opposition parties stage stir, demand release of leaders detained in J&K

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 22, 2019  | 17:01 IST

(Eds: Adds quotes) New Delhi, Aug 22 (PTI) Opposition parties, including the Congress, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the DMK, staged a protest at Jantar Mantar here on Thursday, demanding release of the political leaders under detention in Jammu and Kashmir and restoration of normalcy there. Congress leader P Chidambaram's son Karti also joined the protest. Chidambaram, a former Union finance minister, was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday night in connection with a money-laundering case related to INX Media. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, CPI general secretary D Raja, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav, Loktantrik Janata Dal's Sharad Yadav, RJD's Manoj Jha and TMC's Dinesh Trivedi were among those who took part in the protest. In a resolution passed during the protest, the opposition parties said as a consequence of abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution without holding consultations with the people of Jammu and Kashmir or their representatives, an undeclared state of Emergency had come to force in the Valley. "We stand by the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their difficult hour. The decisions taken by the Union government to impose a complete communication blackout and the continued detention of former chief ministers and political leaders...members of civil society and even innocent citizens running into thousands are matters of serious concern. "There has been a chilling crackdown on free speech and the right of assembly. Such actions go against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India and need to be immediately reversed. We demand immediate release of all public representatives of mainstream political parties and innocent citizens," the resolution said. Addressing the protest, Azad said, "There is something grave happening in the state and the government is hiding it from us. It is being reported by foreign media but not our media." Praising Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Azad said the former prime minister was a thorough gentleman, a great parliamentarian and a democrat. If Vajpayee was at the helm of affairs, "this would not have happened", he added. On the political leaders under detention in Kashmir, the Congress leader said, "For so many years, we have been serving as a bridge between the people of Kashmir and the rest of the country. Instead of taking them into confidence, these leaders have been put behind bars." Samajwadi Party (SP) MP Ramgopal Yadav asked if the situation in Kashmir was normal, why political leaders continued to be in detention? "The way they (Centre) have bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir, tomorrow they will say Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are large states and hence, unmanageable. They will divide these states into multiple Union territories, appoint lieutenant governors and run proxy governments," he said. Congress's Manish Tewari claimed that Kashmir was facing an unprecedented situation. "This fight is not limited to Jammu and Kashmir. This is a fight for our democratic rights and to save our constitution," he said. Yechury alleged that the Centre had manipulated the Constitution and the process had started months ago, when the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) withdrew from the coalition government, headed by Mehbooba Mufti, in Jammu and Kashmir. "All this is a part of a larger conspiracy. They want to make India a 'Hindu Rashtra' (Hindu nation) by abrogating the Constitution itself," he said. The leaders raised slogans demanding restoration of normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, resumption of telecommunication services in the Valley and immediate release of all political leaders who have been detained. The National Conference, whose leaders Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah are among those detained in the Valley after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5, also took part in the protest. PTI GVS ASG RC

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