A 23-member delegation of European Union Members of Parliament left for Kashmir on Tuesday morning to see first-hand the ground situation in the region after the scrapping of Article 370, which gave Jammu & Kashmir special status.
This will be the first visit by any international delegation to the Valley after August 5, when Parliament passed resolutions and laws to scrap special status to the state and special privileges to its residents and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union territories. This was followed by communication lockdown and other restrictions in the Valley, some of which have since been lifted.
“It is a good opportunity for us to go into Kashmir as a foreign delegation and to be able to see firsthand for ourselves what is happening on the ground,” said Nathan Gill, Member of European Parliament from Wales, reports ANI.
The visit to Valley comes a day after the delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. The opposition Congress, however, criticized the move with party leader Rahul Gandhi tweeting: “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.”
The Prime Minister, while welcoming the delegation at 7, Lok Kalyan Marg, had expressed hope that they will have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country including Jammu and Kashmir.
PM Modi explained to the MPs that changes in Jammu & Kashmir were meant to achieve peace and ensure development in the region. He also stressed the importance of zero-tolerance towards terrorism, and asked for urgent action for all supporters of terrorism. The Prime Minister did not name, which has served as a base for several terrorist groups operating in Jammu & Kashmir.
The meeting with the PM was followed by one with Doval, who told them that the restrictions put in place after August 5 were necessary to ensure there were no attacks by the Pakistan-based terror groups. Doval’s detailed briefing also countered Pakistan’s contention of a genocide-like situation in the Valley.
The delegation comprised Poland’s Joana Kopcinska, Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Ryszard Czarnecki, Kosma Zlotowski, Bogdan Rzonca, Elzbieta Rafalska; Italy’s Silvia Sardone, Gianna Gancia, Fulvio Martusciello, Guiseppe Ferrandino; France’s France Jamet, Nicholas Bay, Virginie Joron, Julie Lechanteux, Maxette Pirbakas, and Thierry Mariani.
Source from HT media