Shiromani Akali Dal (A) President Simranjit Singh Mann is on protest for the past 24 hours at Lakhanpur — the gateway to Jammu and Kashmir bordering Punjab — after being denied entry into the Union Territory, an official said.
Mann, a Member of Parliament from Sangrur in Punjab, was stopped on the orders of Kathua District Magistrate Rahul Pandey on Monday evening, leading to protests by the politician and his supporters besides PDP president Mehbooba Mufti who termed the move as an attempt to “hide the reality”.
Pandey, in his order issued under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), said it had been brought to his notice by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) that Mann was scheduled to enter Jammu and Kashmir and his visit was likely to cause “disturbance in public tranquility”.
“Therefore, I, in exercise of the powers vested in me under Section 144 CrPC do hereby prohibit Mann from entering the jurisdiction of Kathua,” Pandey said in his order.
Protesting the decision, Mann refused to return and spent the night at Lakhanpur despite both Pandey and SSP Ramesh Kotwal visiting him around midnight and requesting him to return.
Mann sought from them the specific reason for being denied entry into Jammu and Kashmir, a source said, adding that the politician also threatened to violate the prohibitory orders and asked the officers to arrest him.
“Party Members & I’ve entered J&K. Police with orders from GOI (Government of India) have stopped my entry into Kashmir without assigning any reason. I have a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer, which isn’t being allowed. Union Home Minister (Amit) Shah says there is complete peace in J&K.
“Thus I see no reason to prevent entry of a peaceful delegation, visiting and enquiring upon the people of J&K. Our party is against such tyranny and special powers given to the army,” Mann wrote on twitter.
Reacting to the tweets, former chief minister Mehbooba said “GOI organises guided tours of J&K for ministers & dignitaries to project ‘normalcy’ but disallows & bars people like Simranjeet Mann from entering the state to hide the reality.”
The SAD(A) leader staged a ‘dharna’ along with scores of his accompanying supporters at the place throughout the day.
Criticising the Kathua administration’s decision to deny him entry, Mann had earlier said, “I am a Sikh and that is why BJP and the RSS did not allow my entry into Jammu and Kashmir.”
“There is no legislature in Jammu and Kashmir, which is under military rule. There is no democracy. I have come to visit the people of Kashmir to see for myself what is happening (post abrogation of Article 370). I want to highlight the real picture to the outside world,” he had told reporters Monday.
The administration has beefed up security at Lakhanpur after receiving information that Mann supporters from Punjab and Kathua were planning to join him at the protest site.
Additional deployments have been made as a precautionary measure to enforce the prohibitory orders and maintain law and order, an official said.
A lawyer said Mann is moving court against the “unwarranted” decision of the Kathua administration.