Seeking external validation? Modi invites EU lawmakers to visit ‘normal’ Kashmir

Delegation on private trip and dominated by Right-wingers allowed to visit Srinagar

EU Delegation

After 85 days of the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and the subsequent clampdown, twenty-seven members of the European Parliament – many of them members of Far-Right parties, are set to visit Srinagar on Tuesday, October 29, in an apparent bid to address criticism coming from international quarters on the prolonged clampdown in Kashmir, The Telegraph reported.

The visit is said to have been approved by the Central government and the lawmakers from Italy, Britain, France, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium and Spain are said to be here in their personal capacity.

Out of the 27 parliamentarians visiting, 24 of them are from far-right parties. Six French MPs are from Marine Le Pen’s National Front, the six Polish MPS are from the ruling far-right party and the British MPs belong to the Brexit party, Firstpost reported.

Tomas Zdechovsky, from the Czech Republic, had written an article in the European Parliament’s monthly newspaper last month where he said that the abrogation of Article 370 would help in rooting out several terrorist organizations operating in Kashmir.

The visit comes after a week after questions were raised at the US Congressional hearing on human rights in South Asia with some American lawmakers contending when there is such a clampdown, human rights violations are presumably taking place. In a letter to Indian Ambassador to the US Harsh VardhanShringla they said, “We believe true transparency can only be achieved when journalists and members of Congress are allowed free access to the region. We encourage India to open Jammu and Kashmir to both domestic and foreign journalists, and other international visitors, in the interest of open media and increased communication.

Kashmir is still out of bounds for Indian politicians. While some opposition leaders like Mehbooba Mufti were placed under house arrest after the abrogation of Article 370, some others like Rahul Gandhi have been barred from entering the state.

So, why has PM Modi opened up Kashmir to a foreign delegation? The official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) regarding the visit said, “The visit will provide them with a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, Modi said and hoped that it will also give them a “clear view” of the development and governance priorities in the region.”

National Security Advisor (NSA) AjitDoval had also earlier briefed the delegation for about forty minutes on cross-border terrorism and the constitutional changes made in the status of Jammu and Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370.

The visit that seeks to show that the ruling party wishes to portray that ‘all is well’ in the Valley has drawn the ire of Opposition leaders. Using the #KashmirTruthTour many have questioned this ad-hoc decision of PM Modi.

BJP’s own party member, Subramanian Swamy too condemned the government’s move.

Reportedly, the European Parliament and European Union are not officially involved in this visit. The question ‘Why Them? Why Now?’ is what the whole of India seems to be asking PM Modi.
At a time when there have been grave human rights violations reports coming in from Kashmir – children as young as nine have been illegally detained, journalists being detained and harassed, there has been a full communication and media blackout with journalists (Indian and foreign) not being allowed to report the ground reality of the situation in the Valley, healthcare is not accessible, traders across the state have suffered losses of approximately Rs. 10,000 crore – what picture of a ‘normal’ Kashmir is the Prime Minister trying to portray to the world?
Why is Modi on the defensive and why is his office trying to prove innocence to people who are not stakeholders in an internal matter?

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