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  India   All India  29 Oct 2019  EU MPs to go to J&K today as row erupts

EU MPs to go to J&K today as row erupts

AGE CORRESPONDENT WITH AGENCY INPUTS
Published : Oct 29, 2019, 1:06 am IST
Updated : Oct 29, 2019, 1:06 am IST

The move was also criticised by the Left parties and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.

The government had also then announced the bifurcation of J&K into two Union territories. (Photo: File)
 The government had also then announced the bifurcation of J&K into two Union territories. (Photo: File)

New Delhi: In a development signalling an international outreach by the Narendra Modi government that is snowballing into a major political controversy, at least 27 European Union MPs in India on a private visit plan to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday after they met Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Monday. Government sources said, however, that the MPs’ visit to J&K was being organised by an “NGO”. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that the government has given its approval to the visit. Mr Modi “highlighted the importance of close international cooperation to fight terrorism” to the EU MPs when they called on him.

“Urgent action must be taken against all those who support or sponsor terrorism or support such activities and organisations or use terrorism as a state policy. There should be zero tolerance for terrorism,” Mr Modi told the European MPs. International news agency reports claimed that the delegation is “drawn mainly from right-wing parties” and that the group is “dominated” by right-wing MPs from France, Britain and eastern Europe.

Thierry Mariani, a European MP belonging to France’s far-right National Rally, was quoted as telling a news agency: “We are going to see the situation in Kashmir, at least what they want to show us.”

In early August this year, India revoked Article 370 that granted a special status to J&K state. The government had also then announced the bifurcation of J&K into two Union territories.

The Congress Party on Monday swiftly questioned the government for allowing a European Union delegation to visit Kashmir while preventing Indian political leaders from going to the state, and claimed it was an insult to India’s Parliament and democracy. The move was also criticised by the Left parties and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy.

News agency reports said national security adviser Ajit Doval, who hosted a lunch for the European legislators, also briefed these MPs on cross-border terror emanating from Pakistan, the constitutional changes made in the status of Jammu and Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370 and the situation in the Kashmir Valley.

In a statement from New Delhi, the Prime Minister’s Office said: “Members of the European Parliament called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg today... Talking about the need to strengthen engagement with EU on regional and global matters, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of close international cooperation to fight terrorism.”

On their forthcoming visit to J&K, the PMO said: “The Prime Minister, while welcoming the delegation to India, expressed the hope that they have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including to Jammu and Kashmir. Their visit to Jammu and Kashmir should give the delegation a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; apart from giving them a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region.”

“The Prime Minister appreciated the importance the parliamentarians attach to their relationship with India by visiting right at the beginning of their term. ... The Prime Minister said that India’s relationship with the European Union is based on shared interests and common commitment to democratic values.”

Amid mounting criticism, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh asked why the “chest-beating champion of nationalism”, in an apparent swipe at Mr Modi, has allowed European leaders to visit J&K. “When Indian political leaders have been prevented from meeting
the people of J&K, what possessed the great chest-beating champion of nationalism to allow European politicians to visit J&K. This is an outright insult to India’s own Parliament and our democracy,” he tweeted.

An angry CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “Then why were Indian political party leaders and MPs repeatedly prevented from exiting Srinagar airport? I was allowed to enter Srinagar only when the Supreme Court permitted my habeas corpus petition. Even today, Indian MPs are not allowed while Modi welcomes MEPs!” It may be recalled Mr Yechury and CPI leader D. Raja were not allowed to visit the state after the abrogation of Article 370 despite repeated attempts.

Mr Yechury was allowed to visit his ailing party colleague Yusuf Tarigami after the Supreme Court gave its go-ahead on the condition that he would not be part of any political activity there.

BJP MP Subramanian Swamy was quoted as saying: “This is a perversion of our national policy. I urge the government cancel this visit because it is immoral.”

Tags: european union, kashmir valley