Members of European Parliament in Kashmir: Congress sees it as biggest ‘diplomatic blunder’

At a standstill: A man sitting in front of a closed market during a shutdown at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Wednesday.

At a standstill: A man sitting in front of a closed market during a shutdown at Lal Chowk in Srinagar on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Modi government has deliberately internationalised the Kashmir issue, it says.

The Congress on Wednesday described the Union government’s decision to allow a delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to visit Srinagar as the biggest ‘diplomatic blunder’ and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak on the issue as it went against India’s stated policy that Kashmir is an internal matter.

“The truth is that this is the biggest diplomatic blunder in India's history. The Modi government has deliberately internationalised the Kashmir issue, violating our time-tested policy of Kashmir being an internal matter' of India,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said at a press conference.

Mr. Surjewala’s comments came almost immediately after a delegation of 23 MEPs (Members of European Parliament) returned from a two-day trip of Kashmir for a ‘first-hand assessment of the ground situation in Kashmir.’

“The Modi government has committed grave sacrilege by introducing a third party to assess the ground situation in Kashmir and that also through an unknown think tank. By doing so, it has caused an affront to India's sovereign right over Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The Congress, which plans to raise the issue in the coming winter session of Parliament, also asked the government to clarify about its its ‘links’ with Madi Sharma, whose Women's Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT) has organised the ‘unofficial trip’ of the MEPs delegation, and called her an ‘international broker’.

Priyanka takes a dig at govt

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, meanwhile, in a tweet in Hindi, said: “Farmers and unemployed youth of India don't have the facility to meet the Prime Minister, so that their problems can be heard. But yes, international business brokers like Madi Sharma can proudly write, 'come to India, we will also bear your expenses. We have access to the PM's Office, we will arrange a meeting with the PM.’ How did these business brokers have access to the PMO.”

Mr. Surjewala said, “We call upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come forward and answer these issues that challenge India's sovereignty, national security and insult India's Parliament.”

He said an ill-advised and ill-conceived public relations exercise by the BJP government “made a spectacle of India’s diplomacy and violated India's time-tested policy over the last 72 years of considering Kashmir as an internal issue”.

“Will the Prime Minister tell as to who is ‘Madi Sharma’? Why and in what capacity is she fixing an appointment with the Prime Minister for a delegation of EU MPs on a personal visit and why is the Government of India facilitating it”, he asked.

Former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram also mocked the government for seeking endorsement from EU MPs for its decision on Article 370.

“Who knows? The MEPs may be invited to attend the next session of Parliament and speak in support of the government,” he told reporters while coming out of a court appearance.

“Howdy Madi? #International broker”, tweeted Congress’s Jairam Ramesh to rhyme with the Prime Minister’s recent Houston event.

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An earlier version of this story mentioned that Jairam Ramesh's tweet read "Howdy Modi". The error is regretted.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 7:19:19 AM |

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