After visiting Kashmir, former Jammu-Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, on Wednesday, has slammed the Centre for the sorrowful state of the Valley, talking to reporters in New Delhi. He has stated that small businessmen have been hit the worst by the restrictions, adding that they are on the verge of committing suicide. He slammed the Centre for the death of democracy in the State. Lamenting at the state of the Valley, he said that never before has he seen such terror by the administration anywhere.
"The level of sorrow and disappointment in Kashmir is the same as that in Jammu province. Apart from 100-200 people from the ruling party, no one is happy. Small businessmen whose livelihoods are dependent on Kashmir - be it small-scale, middle-scale, transport people are so disappointed that they are saying they are on the verge of suicide. I have never seen such terror by the administration anywhere in the world. There is no democracy in the state. With the change in law, democracy has also stopped here," he said.
Stating loss of freedom of speech, he said that people were scared to speak. He added that people had lost the right to agitate for basic amenities. Alleging threats by the administration, he said people who wished to agitate were threatened with jailing. He added that the change in the law had suppressed the voice of Jammu-Kashmir.
"People are scared to speak. They check whether someone is taping them on a camera before speaking. With the change in law, the voice of Jammu-Kashmir has been suppressed; freedom of speech and expression is lost. If one wishes to agitate for water and electric supply, they are asked, 'Which jail in India do you wish to go to?'. There is no Constitution in the state," he added.
Earlier on Friday, Azad commenced a four-day visit to Jammu-Kashmir. On Saturday, he had visited the Lal Ded Hospital in Srinagar to interact with the patients and locals in order to assess the situation there. He also visited the Tourist Reception Centre and interacted with the members of Kashmir Houseboat Owners' Association. He was granted permission by the apex Court to visit the Valley. His three earlier bids to reach Srinagar had failed as he had been turned back from the airport.
On September 16 the CJI-led bench had allowed senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Jammu. Azad had filed a petition to visit the valley stating that the visit was not political but was based on humanitarian grounds. He said he was representing 18 categories of Kashmir residents whose livelihood has been hit due to the restrictions. Azad assured the Court that he will not hold any speeches in the specific areas and just wants to meet the people. After being assured of the same, CJI Ranjan Gogoi had permitted Azad's visit.
Meanwhile, the Centre has stated that the situation in Kashmir is slowly being restored back to normalcy. On Sunday, the weekly flea market in Srinagar had attracted a large number of vendors, who set up their stalls, inspite of various main markets and other business establishments still shut, according to PTI. While traffic has been seen increasing in the Valley, public transport is still not functional, as informed by authorities. While landline connections have been restored completely, internet and cell connections too have been restored to most parts of the Valley, according to Kashmir administration. The state administration has been giving regular reports about medical facilities functional in the Valley.