09:38 GMT +308 December 2019
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    India's Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers patrol near the India Pakistan border fencing at Garkhal in Akhnoor, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west of Jammu, India, 13 August 2019

    Indian Opposition Party Chief Slams Gov't for Allowing EU Delegation to Visit Kashmir as 'Insult'

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    New Delhi (Sputnik): India had allowed a delegation of European Union lawmakers visit the restive Kashmir region in October, two months after the state was stripped of its special status. The move had evoked strong reactions from India’s opposition parties, who were upset about not allowing their own delegations in Kashmir.

    Sonia Gandhi, Interim President of India’s opposition Congress Party said on Thursday that the visit of the EU delegation to Kashmir last months had added “insult to injury”. 

    In a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said while Indian leaders were not allowed to visit the disputed state, “the government preferred to shamefully organise clean chits (free passes) for a clutch of European parliamentarians brought along by a dubious NGO”.

    Addressing a Congress Party parliamentary meeting, Sonia Gandhi alleged that instead of addressing the economic situation, the “Modi-Shah government is busy fudging statistics, or indeed, not publishing them at all”.

    “…Modi-Shah government is bankrupt of decency and is clueless on how to manage the grave problems facing the country. The economic crisis is deepening by the day… Instead of tackling the problem, the Modi-Shah government is busy fudging statistics or, indeed, not publishing them at all!” she alleged.

    The Congress Party leader also accused the government of putting state-run enterprises on the block, which would be “sold off to a few favoured business people”.

    On Wednesday, India’s federal Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had defended the handling of the economy and claimed that growth might have slowed down, but the economy was not in recession.

    "Every step being taken is in the interest of the country. Looking at the economy in discerning view, you see that growth may have come down but it is not recession yet, it won't be recession ever," Sitharaman told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian Parliament, listing out initiatives by the government to contain the decline in growth.

    The Narendra Modi-led government has faced much backlash for its decision to allow a delegation of foreign parliamentarians to visit Kashmir while denying access to Indian ones, back in October.

    The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Subramanian Swami, who is a member of the upper house of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha, has bashed the move as “a perversion of our national policy” and “immoral”, while India’s main opposition Congress Party branded the decision as “an outright insult to India's own Parliament and our democracy” at the time.

    New Delhi abrogated Article 370 and 35A, which granted special status to the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state in early August. The government in the process also divided the state into to federally administered territories. Though the federal government claimed, the situation in the restive region was completely normal, dozens of political leaders including three former chief ministers are still under preventive custody.

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    Sonia Gandhi, Kashmir, Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi, India
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