Theresa Griffin, a Member of the European Parliament from Britain has meanwhile, clarified that “the Group of far-right MEPs currently visiting #Kashmir are not in any way an “official” delegation”. She has also asked New Delhi to end the shutdown in Kashmir and restore the “constitutional rule of law".
To be absolutely clear - the group of far-right MEPs currently visiting #Kashmir are not in any way an "official" delegation. They do not speak for the European Parliament. The shutdown in Kashmir must be ended and constitutional rule of law restored. https://t.co/e6bVILYm8a— Theresa Griffin MEP (@TheresaMEP) October 29, 2019
Though the federal Indian government sought to pass off the visit as “private”, it stoked a controversy in the political circles of New Delhi, after evidence of a business broker’s involvement surfaced. The invitation for the visit was extended by one Madi Sharma, whose credentials on her Twitter handle say, “Social Capitalist: International Business Broker: Education Entrepreneur: Speaker”.
“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…", reads the invitation accessed and shared on social media by a senior journalist.
The invitation to the European MP's was sent out by someone called Madi Sharma. She promised a 'prestigious VIP meeting' with India's Prime Minister, in addition to the Kashmir trip. (Screenshot of her mail exchange with MEP Chris Davies, released by his office) @OnReality_Check pic.twitter.com/6giTXCCjaq— Sreenivasan Jain (@SreenivasanJain) October 29, 2019
India’s main opposition Congress Party has criticised the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “involving a third party to assess the ground situation in Kashmir”. The party spokesperson said in a tweet in Hindi, “By doing so, the Government has insulted India’s sovereignty over Jammu and Kashmir”.
मोदी सरकार ने कश्मीर के जमीनी हालात का आकलन करने के लिए एक तीसरे पक्ष को शामिल करके बड़ी गलती की है, वह भी एक अज्ञात थिंक टैंक के जरिए। ऐसा करके सरकार ने जम्मू-कश्मीर पर भारत की संप्रभुता का अपमान किया है :@rssurjewala— Congress (@INCIndia) October 30, 2019
Prior to their departure to Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, the delegation had a meeting with Prime Minister Modi and his National Security Advisor Ajit Dobal in New Delhi. In Srinagar they held meetings with senior civil, police and military officials, who briefed them about the situation on the ground in the troubled valley.
Reports indicate that no member of civil society, trade body, or mainstream political party leader from Kashmir was allowed to meet the EU lawmakers. Mediapersons from Kashmir also were not invited or allowed at a press conference, held at the conclusion of the delegation's visit.
One of the delegation members from Spain – Hermann Tertsche said, “We are conscious of the fact that we are being kept away from some people”.
Kashmir has been on tenterhooks since New Delhi revoked Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution in early August to strip the state of its special status and divided it into two federally administered territories.
Dozens of political leaders, including three former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir are still in custody, while mobile internet and pre-paid mobile services are yet to be restored.
The government has not allowed leaders of mainstream political parties or parliamentarians of India to visit the state. However, two leaders – Ghulam Nabi Azad, a former chief minister of the state and senior Congress leader and Sitaram Yechuri, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) managed to make a conditional visit to the state, armed with an order from the Supreme Court of India.