Rahul Gandhi retorts sharply to J-K governor’s jibe

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday finally responded to a stinging barb from Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik yesterday that accused him of speaking irresponsibly about the situation in the Kashmir valley.
“You are a responsible person and you should not speak like this,” Governor Malik said on Monday, his comment aimed at Congress’ Rahul Gandhi who had spoken about reports of violence in the Kashmir valley. Rubbing it in, Malik had gone a step ahead and offered to send a plane to get Rahul Gandhi to the valley.
“I have invited Rahul Gandhi to come here. I will send you a plane, to observe (the situation) and then speak up,” Malik had announced on Monday.
Rahul Gandhi had spent most of the last few days in Kerala where his constituency, Wayanad, is one of the worst-affected areas due to the monsoon rains. Back from Kerala, he delivered his comeback.
“Dear Governor Malik, A delegation of opposition leaders & I will take you up on your gracious invitation to visit J&K and Ladakh,” Gandhi wrote on social media.
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Gandhi added that the opposition wouldn’t need an aircraft but also permission to travel freely in the state that has been under a security lockdown even before the twin legislations to strip the state of its special status under Article 370 and to carve it into two union territories were introduced in Parliament on August 5.
“We won’t need an aircraft but please ensure us the freedom to travel & meet the people, mainstream leaders and our soldiers stationed over there,” Gandhi tweeted.
Gandhi’s sarcastic remark for freedom to travel comes against the backdrop of the Jammu and Kashmir government turning back several opposition leaders from the Srinagar airport including the Congress’ Ghulam Nabi Azad and prominent Left leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja.
Leaders of the two mainstream regional parties, Omar Abdullah of the National Conference and Mehbooba Mufti of the Peoples’ Democratic Party are among the scores of political leaders detained to forestall protests and rallies.
Discontent has simmered in Kashmir since the early hours of August 5, when phone and Internet lines were suspended and restrictions on movement and assembly of people clamped.
Since the clampdown, rumours and standalone accounts of violence and retaliation by security forces have swirled in the Valley but almost all of them have been denied by the government.
In a statement, the Union home ministry on Monday admitted to “isolated stone pelting incidents” but added that they were “insignificant”.
“In Srinagar, keeping in view the possibility of terrorists, militants and mischievous elements trying to disturb public order and peace, reasonable restrictions were imposed on large gatherings in sensitive areas,” the ministry added.
Home Minister Amit Shah had defended the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir during the debate on the passage of the two laws, underlining that these had been placed as a preventive measure so that there was no loss of lives as against the past when such measures were only taken after people died.