The statement has irked separatists. One leader indicated it was a matter solely between India and Pakistan. Separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said the Hurriyat is committed to meaningful dialogue.
A five-member delegation of the European Union (EU), which created a stir in separatist circles by saying that Kashmir was an integral part of India, has concluded its two-day visit to the Kashmir Valley.
The delegation, led by Swedish Ambassador to India Lars Olof Lindgren, met a cross-section of people as part of its “fact-finding” mission. The other team members were: Ambassador of Belgium Jean M. Deboutte; Ambassador of Spain Ion de la Reva; Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission, Daniele Smajda; and second Secretary (Political Affairs) at the Swedish Embassy Oscar Schlyter.
They met Commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt. Gen. Bikram Singh; Chairman of the Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq; JKLF chief Yasin Malik; members of the Jammu and Kashmir Coalition Society; and PDP leader and the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. The delegation also visited a school in the Pattan area of north Kashmir.
The most significant development during the visit was that the EU diplomats said Kashmir is an integral part of India. “That is the opinion of the European Union and we don’t need to discuss it here. That is our opinion and that is the starting point of the discussion,” Mr. Lindgren told journalists at the residence of Mr. Farooq. He also maintained that the governments of India and Pakistan and the Kashmiri people must jointly find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir problem.
The separatist leaders said representatives of Kashmir’s “resistance struggle” must be part of a dialogue process. “The EU should start pressuring India to take steps to let the families of over 9500 missing persons in Kashmir know about their whereabouts,” the Mirwaiz told the delegation. The EU should take steps to play a role in facilitating a composite dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad, he said.
“The Hurriyat is committed to a meaningful dialogue. Unless and until India takes steps as suggested by us no dialogue is possible,” he said.
“After our transition to non-violent movement for freedom, the international community, including the EU, is duty-bound to respond to the peaceful aspirations of the people of Kashmir and take steps for the resolution of Kashmir issue,” said Mr. Malik. He also appraised the delegation of “human rights violation” in the State.
Informed sources said the EU diplomats’ statement caused heartburn in the separatist camp. “After we made everything clear to them and since they know the ground situation, this kind of statement was not expected from them,” a separatist leader told The-Hindu on condition of anonymity. He said the EU parliament’s report and other statements stood testimony to its just policy on Kashmir. The Swedish Ambassador violated that policy.
When the delegation met Mr. Sayeed before leaving for Delhi, he emphasised need for an inclusive dialogue to resolve the Kashmir issue. He told the Ambassadors that the political and law and order situation in the State was improving. He expected the Centre to initiate a credible, sustained and result-oriented dialogue with Pakistan and with the political elements within the State.