The Concerned Citizens Group (CCG) led by former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha Monday said that they met various delegations of cross section of society in Kashmir and would come up with a detailed report on the ground situation in Kashmir after abrogation of Article 370. Sinha said there is a deep sense of anger, shock and disappointment among the masses in Kashmir.
Besides Sinha, the CCG comprised former bureaucrat WajahatHabibullah, Kapil Kak, Sushoba Bharve and journalist Bharat Bhushan.
Sources said the group met with several delegations andmembers of the civil society after reaching Srinagar on 21 November. They were,however, not allowed to meet the detained political leaders including formerChief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah.
Talking to Greater Kashmir from Srinagar Airport, Sinha saidthat "despite restrictions" on their movement, they were satisfied with theirvisit.
"We wanted to travel to some areas and meet people from thepolitical spectrum, but were denied permission. But we are still satisfied withour endeavour as we met over 20 delegations of people belonging to variousspheres of life," Sinha said.
Asked about the feedback they received from the people,Sinha said there was a lot of shock, grief, anger and disappointment among thepeople of all walks of life. "This is what we could feel from our meetings withthe people of various shades."
Sinha said they were planning to prepare a "fact-findingreport."
The former BJP leader-led group concluded their four-dayKashmir visit after being denied permission to meet former Chief Ministers.Sinha had managed to speak to Dr Farooq on phone and wanted a meeting with theNC leader and MP from Srinagar but was denied permission by J&Kadministration.
"We felt that we were under constant watch by the securityagencies. While leaving Srinagar, we decided not to pass through the way whereDr Farooq is detained," Sinha said.
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA ADDS FROM SRINAGAR:
The delegation also termed the curbs on their movement indifferent parts of the Valley as a "deliberate ploy" by the government to hidethe ground reality.
It warned that the situation will deteriorate further if theCentre "does not change its behaviour on Kashmir."
"After talking to various groups of people and individuals,I have come to the conclusion at the end of our visit that the situation is notat all normal." Sinha told PTI.
Asserting that the Centre's decision of stripping Jammu andKashmir of its special status and bifurcating it into two Union Territories hascaused a "huge psychological problem", Sinha said an atmosphere of fear wasprevailing in the Valley.
"The region's inhabitants had not expected the enormous moveby the Centre that resulted in people being numbed and now that numbness hasbeen replaced by a great deal of fear," the former Union Finance Minister said.
"There is a prevailing atmosphere of fear here. Even thosewho came to see us in the hotel were harassed and they told us very clearlythat they will not like their names to be revealed because they were not surewhat kind of future they will face," he said.
Asked about the detention of several mainstream politicalleaders, including sitting Member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah – whom hetalked to over the phone, Sinha accused the Centre of "destroying a significantbuffer" in the Valley and creating a vacuum as people have no one to go to withtheir grievances.
He termed as very "unfortunate" and "painful" the detentionof Abdullah, a political representative elected by the people.
"They have destroyed a significant buffer which was thereand they have created a vacuum..there is nobody to talk to," Sinha said.
He claimed that since the group was not allowed to carry outwith its programme that involved travelling and meeting people in the towns andvillages in the districts outside Srinagar, it was an indication that thegovernment wanted to hide the ground reality from the rest of the country.
The group members were asked by the police not to moveoutside Srinagar as the situation was not conducive and there was a threat ofan impending militant attack, which Sinha termed as "a deliberate ploy" by thegovernment to restrict their interactions with common people.
"We have come to Kashmir at the height of militancy when thesituation on the law and order front was really far from normal. We travelledaround in taxis, went to the districts, met people, there was no threat," hesaid.
Sinha asserted that the Central Government has maintainedthat Article 370 was responsible for militancy in Kashmir and now that it hasbeen four months since Article 370 was abolished, people are being told thatmilitancy is still there.
"So, either the first part is true or the second part is,"he said.
However, he added that the visit was still very successful.
"I will describe my visit as very successful because even aswe were not allowed to visit, for instance Pulwama or Shopian, but people fromPulwama and Shopian met us here. We met Panchayat representatives, BarAssociation members, farmers, youths, we met a very large cross-section of thepeople," the former union finance minister said.
When asked if he foresees the situation as returning tonormal in the Valley in the near future, Sinha said it would depend on theCentre's behaviour on the Kashmir issue.
"It is difficult to say when the situation will return tonormal, but much of it depends on how the Government of India will behave. Ifthere is no change in its behaviour, then there will be no change in thesituation here and if there is any change in the situation, then it will onlydeteriorate further, he said.