Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday met a delegation of the European Union before their planned visit to Kashmir. 27 EU MPs posed with Modi for the camera before they set off to Kashmir, which has been under lockdown since 5 August this year. Modi giving his approval to the EU delegation to visit Kashmir assumed significance in light of the government’s refusal to allow even Indian MPs to visit the valley.
While sharing his photo with the EU MPs, Modi tweeted, “Fruitful interactions with MPs from the European Parliament. We exchanged views on boosting India-EU ties, the need to come together to fight terrorism and other issues. I spoke about steps being taken by the Government of India to boost ‘Ease of Living.’”
Fruitful interactions with MPs from the European Parliament. We exchanged views on boosting India-EU ties, the need to come together to fight terrorism and other issues. I spoke about steps being taken by the Government of India to boost ‘Ease of Living.’ https://t.co/7YYocW3AQN pic.twitter.com/9y1ObOvL9e
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 28, 2019
Pro-government TV channels particularly Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV devoted hours on Monday night claiming how Modi had pulled off a diplomatic coup by allowing 27 MPs from the European parliament to visit Kashmir amidst allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir by the Centre’s BJP government. But, as it emerged, 22 out of 27 EU MPs visiting Kashmir on a fact-finding mission belong to far-right political parties.
They include six MPs, or MEPs as they are known as, from France’s far-right Rassemblement party, five from the Poland’s far-right Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, four from the UK’s right-wing Brexit Party founded by Nigel Farage, two each from Italy’s far-right Lega Party, Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland, the Czech Republic’s centre-Right KDU-ČSL, Belgium’s right-wing Vlaams Belang and Spain’s far-Right VOX.
The government’s go-ahead to the 27 MPs from the EU comes in the wake of US Senator Chris Van Hollen being denied to travel to Kashmir. The authorities in Kashmir has previously stopped an opposition delegation led by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi from visiting Kashmir. The delegation led by Gandhi was made to return from the Srinagar airport.
Two MPs, Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress and Sitaram Yechury from the CPI-M, visited Kashmir only after the Supreme Court’s intervention.
As expected, journalists and other social media users took to Twitter to highlight the Centre’s hypocrisy with some users even terming the visit by the EU MPs to Kashmir as a guided tour by the Modi government. Journalist Rajdeep Sardesai wrote, “Strange: we don’t allow Indian MPs to travel freely in Kashmir and meet people but we seem to be more than eager to allow EU members to do so! Surely, we don’t need a EU certificate ahead of one from our own MPs!!”
Journalist Sushant Singh wrote, “To sum it up, a group (not official delegation) of 27 MEPs – 22 of them affiliated to far Right parties – are visiting India in a private capacity – organised by an NGO – and are being taken to Kashmir Valley by the central government.”
Activist Nitasha Kaul tweeted, “Far right EU MEPs being taken to #Kashmir, not an official delegation, not US Senator, not free press. The transnational hate and flouting of usual norms in a #democracy speaks for itself.”
Kaul had made a compelling case on the human rights violations in Kashmir during a congressional hearing in the US last week.