MEPs' visit: Terrorism in Kashmir is international community's problem, not India's alone, says EU parliamentarian but steers clear of Article 370
Extending support to India in the fight against terror, four European Union lawmakers on Wednesday said that the visit of 23 parliamentarians to Jammu and Kashmir was to ascertain the region’s reality
Four European Union lawmakers on Wednesday said that the visit of 23 parliamentarians to Jammu and Kashmir was to ascertain the region's reality
France's Henri Maloose and Thierry Mariani, Britain's Bill Newton Dunn and Poland's Ryszard Czarnecki condemned the deaths of five migrant workers in Kulgam
The lawmakers are mainly from far-right parties, with only three of the 27 MPs belonging to the Left or liberal parties
Winding up a two-day "unofficial" visit to Kashmir to assess the ground situation in the region upon invitation from the Indian government, the visiting delegation on Wednesday made it clear that the terrorism affecting the Valley is not India's problem alone but an issue for the international community.
“Terrorism in Kashmir is not just India’s problem, but also the international community’s problem,” said Ryszard Czarnecki, one of the 23 visiting MEPs, at a press conference in Srinagar on Wednesday.
The press conference came just a day after five labourers were gunned down by suspected militants in Kulgam.
Extending support to India's fight against terror, the visiting delegation while condemning the latest act of terror in the Valley unequivocally said that the purpose of the visit was to ascertain the region’s reality. The MEPs made no mention of Article 370 in the presser.
Apart from Poland's Czarnecki, the press meet was attended by France’s Henri Maloose and Thierry Mariani and Britain’s Bill Newton Dunn.
Recognising that the Valley is constantly under threat, Maloose said that his interaction with activists revealed that their “vision for the future is a vision of peace”. “The army talked to us about the means they are using to fight terrorism,” he said, acknowledging that Kashmir is an internal issue.
The target of the lawmakers’ visit was to get information on the situation in the state, said Mariani. “I am here as I know that terrorists can destroy a country. I have been to Syria, Afghanistan and terrorism is a problem worldwide,” he said.
United Kingdom’s Bill Newton Dunn added the aim of the visit was to see how help and support can be offered to improve the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Nicolaus Fest, European Union MP, told ANI, "I think if you let in European Union parliamentarians, you should also let in Opposition politicians from India. So there is some kind of disbalance, the government should somehow address it."
On Tuesday, the first day of the two-day visit, the MEPs reached Srinagar and met outgoing Governor Satya Pal Malik, army, police, block development council and panchayat officials, civil society members and activists.
The MPs’ "unofficial" visit came days ahead of the bifurcation of the Valley into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh – on 31 October.
The lawmakers are mainly from far-right parties, with only three of the visiting MEPs belonging to the Left or liberal parties. During the two-day visit, the European lawmakers were briefed by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and police chief Dilbag Singh. The team also interacted with some panchayat members and councillors, and top police and civil officials apart from taking a boat ride in the Dal Lake.
MEP Chris Davies claimed he was dropped from the trip because he asked for unfettered access to people and places in Kashmir for a fair assessment. The Liberal Democrat MP said, "I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well. It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice."
Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, Manish Tewari and Anand Sharma have criticised the visit. The Congress leader, who was turned away from the Srinagar airport in August, tweeted, "MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu and Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned and denied entry. There is something very wrong with that."
Meanwhile, NDTV's Nidhi Razdan tweeted that the press conference was not live and was not attended by many local journalists.
Press meet of EU MPs in Srinagar is not live. Is a recording. Only some media invited, many local journalists not invited.
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) October 30, 2019
With inputs from agencies
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