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Opposition fumes over Kashmir visit of EU MEPs

Posted in S. Asia

Published on November 03, 2019 with No Comments

The political storm over an unofficial delegation of members of European parliament visiting Kashmir refused to die down, as the opposition termed it as national embarrassment.

Did a ‘Business Broker’ Arrange EU Delegation’s Kashmir Visit?

Questions are being raised over how Madi Sharma, a Brussels-based person of Indian origin, was able to arrange the trip even as Indian opposition leaders have been kept waiting for access.

The 23 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) who visited J&K were not part of an official delegation of the European Parliament, nor were they invited by the Ministry of External Affairs. The invitations were, in fact, sent by Sharma on behalf of the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT), an NGO she runs. The NGO itself is reportedly part of Sharma’s Madi Group. According to the group’s website, “Madi Sharma is the Entrepreneur who founded, inspires and motivates the Madi Group, a group of International private sector & social enterprises, not for profit companies and NGOs (sic).”

Sharma, who accompanied the 23 EU lawmakers to J&K, had reportedly sent out invitations to 30 MEPs, promising them “a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi” and a visit to Jammu and Kashmir. “I am organising a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi and it is my privilege to offer this invitation to you. As you will be aware Prime Minister Modi had a landslide victory in the recent elections in India and is planning to continue on his path of growth and development for India the country and its people. In that respect, he would like to meet influential decision makers from the European Union,” read the invitation.

As United Nations Human Rights Commission expressed concerns over the situation in Kashmir, trouble brewing at home added to Narendra Modi government’s woes.The political storm over an unofficial delegation of members of European parliament visiting Kashmir refused to die down, as the opposition termed it as a national embarrassment.Leaders across the political spectrum in the opposition slammed the government accusing it of compromising India’s position on the Kashmir issue, while it continued to be in a lockdown position for nearly three months.

It all started with leaders of the BJP camp questioning the Ministry of External Affairs’ (MEA) decision of taking twenty-seven EU Members of Parliament to Kashmir. Opposition leaders were quick to take a cue from Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swami who appealed to the government to cancel the visit calling it ‘immoral’.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who was sent back from Srinagar airport a month ago after he went from Delhi with an all-party delegation attacked the government. “MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu & #Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned & denied entry. There is something very wrong with that,” he tweeted. Leaders from the opposition parties joined the chorus. AIMIM chief Asaddudin Owaisi questioned the credentials of the delegates calling them islamophobics and Nazi Lovers. “Fantastic Choice of MEPs who suffer from a disease -Islamophobia (Nazi lovers) are going to Muslim majority Valley, sure people will welcome them by ‘Ware Paeth Khoshh Paeth’,” he said. He also accused the government of double standards. “Gairon pe karam apano pe sitam, ai jaan-e-vafaa ye zulm na kar, rahane de abhi thodaa saa dharma,( being kind to others while torturing your own, don’t do this, let their be a little justice),” he said retweeting a media report.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also tweeted calling it “unique nationalism’ that own MPs have been returned from the airport while foreign delegates are being allowed to interfere and roam around.” National Conference PDP BSP and the Samajwadi Party also joined the bandwagon criticising the government.

National Conference called it a PR stunt, “What the people of Kashmir think of the MPs visit is very clear from an intensified shutdown in the valley today,” a national spokesperson said in a statement. Opposition parties have threatened to raise this issue in the upcoming session of the Parliament.

Leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabi Azad went on to say that, “I don’t mind any panel being sent to Kashmir but why deny me? Three of the States former chief ministers are locked inside their houses in Kashmir and one in Delhi and you’re rolling red carpets for some 27 EU parliamentarians’he said in a protest at Jantar mantar.”

However, BJP leader Khalid Jehangir who was present at a NSA’s lunch hosted for delegation said they will observe things in the valley . “Azad has gone to Kashmir but no Kashmiri doesn’t want to meet people like him. It’s not the government its the Kashmiris people who have rejected those who created wealth and promoted nepotism,” he said.

 

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