A delegation comprising of 27 members of the European Parliament met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu where the Union government announced its decision to allow the delegates belonging to Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Czech Republic and Poland to travel to Srinagar on the 29th of October to witness the on-ground situation there.
Nearly three months after its decision regarding Article 370, This is the first time the government has permitted such a visit to the Kashmir Valley when hundreds of leaders were previously taken into custody and communication lines stood temporarily suspended.
Optimistic about the delegation’s visit and how it would acquaint them with the development priorities of the region, the Prime Video went on to state that “Urgent action must be taken against all those who support or sponsor terrorists or support such activities and organisations or use terrorism as a state policy,” with reference to Pakistan. In the course of their visit, the MEPs are scheduled to visit schools, where class 10 exams begin on the 28th, and receive briefings on the security situation of the state.
While the MEA ruled out any political bias in the invitations that went out, stating that the delegates were “identified on the basis of their convenience to visit”, a significant feature of the delegation remains that the majority of MEPs belonged to far-right, anti-immigration parties in the European Union, including Italy’sForza Italia, France’s Rassemblement National, Poland’s Justice and Law party, Germany’s Alternative Fur Deutschland (AFD) and UK’s Brexit Party.
This decision stands as evidence of a significant switch in the government's policy after facing considerable criticism in the EU and in the US over its decision on Article 370. The government has thus far been stern on its stance of denying permission to any foreign journalist to cover the situation in J&K post August 5, and turned down visitation requests Delhi-based diplomats as well. Previously, a request by visiting US Congressman Chris Van Hollen was denied and the same was brought up by the State Department at a special hearing of the US Congress subcommittee on Human Rights that looked into concerns over Kashmir.
However, the European Union (EU) Embassy in Delhi has clarified that the MEPs were visiting India in their “personal capacity”, rather than an official delegation. MEA sources said the Ministry was not involved in planning or funding the visit, and that the delegation had been invited and hosted by an NGO called WESTT.
Tags : India, European Union, Kashmir, Article 370