A cross-section of British-Indian bodies, including the Indian Professionals Forum (IPF), Indian National Students Association (INSA), Hindu Council UK as well as temple bodies and community representatives, on Monday wrote to the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to object to his Labour Party’s stance on Kashmir.
The members of these British-Indian bodies have accused Corbyn of bringing an India-Pakistan bilateral affair into the domestic politics of the UK by adopting a “divisive” emergency motion that calls for international intervention in the region.
The motion, passed on 25 September, demands the right of self-determination for the people of Kashmir.
The letter reads: “We are writing collectively, as British-Indian community organisations, to express our deep dismay that Her Majesty’s Opposition has abandoned a long-standing cross-party position on Kashmir as a strictly bilateral matter between India and Pakistan, and in doing so, sown the seeds of community disharmony in the United Kingdom".
“The emergency motion passed at the recent Labour Party Conference is not acceptable to us as it seeks to interfere in the internal matters of, and between, third countries and is drafted in a one-sided and divisive manner. We are also hugely concerned about the wider attempts to bring the Kashmir issue into the domestic politics of the United Kingdom, which has serious ramifications for community harmony", it says.
It further declares that British-Indian organisations are holding consultations to reconsider their "level and nature of engagement" with Labour going forward.
“We are particularly dismayed by the virulent reaction by the Labour Party to the removal of an outdated, temporary provision that was hindering development of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir", the letter adds, in reference to India’s abrogation of Article 370 (special status).
Arch-rivals India and Pakistan have been at the loggerheads since February when the Pulwama suicide bombing attack. The attack was reportedly carried out by an alleged Pakistan-based proscribed militant outfit called Jaish-e-Mohammed. The incident was followed by a pre-dawn attack by India in Pakistan’s Balakot area and dogfight between the two countries.
On 5 August, the Indian Parliament scrapped the seven decades old quasi special status of the country’s Jammu and Kashmir state and bifurcated it into two federally administered territories of India.
The abrogation of special status of Kashmir followed the chain of incidents in August, leading to the imposition of a curfew in the Kashmir Valley and Pakistan brining up the issue at the recently held 74th UN General Assembly.