A group of European Union MPs were on a two day visit to Srinagar last week to evaluate the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The delegation comprised of 23 leaders. This is the first time the government of India has let a foreign delegation to visit to Jammu and Kashmir after it stripped the state of its special status under Article 370 on August 5th, 2019.
EU Delegation Visit in Kashmir:
The delegations have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his residence earlier and were briefed separately by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. 23 European Union MPs have arrived Srinagar last Tuesday to a complete shutdown and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley. They met GoC 15 Corps, Lt General KJS Dhillon in Srinagar. The EU parliamentary delegation, comprising of MPs from UK, Poland, France and other countries communicated with the local representatives in Kashmir valley to get a direct understanding of the situation in the Valley.
Soon after landing in Srinagar, the Jammu and Kashmir administration and police personnel informed the delegations about all the precautionary measures required to be followed during their inspection of the Valley. They were also briefed by security forces in the 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar. The government hoped that the EU delegation visit will help shed the criticism it faced after scrapping the Article 370.
The opposition parties slammed the Central Government for allowing the MPs to visit the valley but denying permission to Indian leaders to move out of Srinagar airport. They termed the visit as the national embarrassment and sought accountability. While a PDP member from Jammu has been denied the permission to visit Kashmir and the PDP leader has accused the BJP of trying to internationalize the Kashmir issue. Several incidents of stone pelting in South Kashmir and Srinagar were reported prior to the EU delegation of MPs visit in Kashmir.
Highlights of EU Delegation visit in Kashmir:
- The delegation interacted with the locals in Jammu and Kashmir and asked them about their experience since the scrapping of the Article 370.
- The visit was expected to take criticism off the government by some foreign leaders, including US lawmakers for the imposition of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir which didn’t allow the foreign officials to visit the valley.
- NSA highlighted about the situation in the state which countered false promotion by Pakistan. He also briefed the delegation about the how there are no restrictions on movement, landline and mobile phones are functional in the valley.
- European Union MPs were briefed about the role of Pakistan in executing terrorism in the Kashmir Valley.
- The EU delegation met with a delegation of Sarpanches and Local Body heads.
- Clashes and stone pelting incidents were reported. There was a complete shutdown across the valley followed by people blocking up the roads in different places in Srinagar and vendors closing their shops and businesses.
- The EU delegation has supported Central Government’s move on Article 370.
- Since Article 370 is an internal issue of India the delegation denied submitting any report to the European Union.
- The EU MPs also encouraged peace talks between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir issue.
- The Congress and the Left Wing opposed the EU MPs visit in Kashmir calling it as a PR exercise.
- The EU delegation recognized terrorism as the major cause for insecurity in the valley which is reckoning the lives of innocent people in the state.