Terrorism an acute problem in Kashmir, say European lawmakers

Aricle 370 is an internal issue of India, Members of the European Parliament feel

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:59 am IST

Published - October 30, 2019 01:43 pm IST - Srinagar

This handout photograph taken on October 28, 2019 and released by India's Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi posing for a group photograph with members of the European Parliament in New Delhi.

This handout photograph taken on October 28, 2019 and released by India's Press Information Bureau (PIB) shows Prime Minister Narendra Modi posing for a group photograph with members of the European Parliament in New Delhi.

The delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs), which is on a visit to Srinagar, on Wednesday said “terrorism is a severe problem in Kashmir” and named Pakistan as its source. They felt India’s move to abrogate provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir was an internal issue. “It should not be used [against India],” they said.

The MEPs described the killing of six non-locals by suspected militants in Kulgam, south Kashmir, as “inhuman”. “Terrorism is not finished yet in Kashmir. Terrorism in Kashmir is not only the problem of India. I think it’s our problem, as well as of the international community. We support India in fighting for a solution to the problem,” three of the delegation told a select group of journalists in Srinagar’s Old Airfield.

Another MEP, Nicolaus Fest, however, said the Indian Opposition parties should also be allowed to visit the Kashmir Valley. “I think if you let in European Union parliamentarians, you should also let in Opposition politicians from India. So there is some kind of imbalance, the government should somehow address it.”

The MEPs who addressed the press were Bill Newton from the UK, Ryszard Czarnecki from Poland and Mariana Thierry from France. Henri Malosse from France, a businessman and a former president of the European Economic and Social Committee, also spoke.

They claimed that they interacted with youth, politicians, women and traders during their two-day stay in Kashmir and termed it a “beginning of their engagement” with the civil society there.

“We are here to get information. We are well equipped now and can go back and share this with our colleagues and respective countries. The situation is not as bad as we thought. People here want peace, better life and better vocations, and want jobs. Terrorism has destroyed such dreams,” they said.

Mr. Newton said the United Kingdom also faced the problem of Northern Ireland, where Christians fought Christians. “Fighting is not a solution. India has a long procedure of talks, agreeing to talk and listening to each other. It is for talks that Northern Ireland is a peaceful place now. My advice is talk and don’t fight,” he said.

Referring to the presentations of the Army and the police, the MEPs said, “Most terrorists killed in J&K have come from abroad, in fact they came from Pakistan. It is an international problem. All protests should be directed against terrorism.”

‘Dynamic place for tourism’

The MEPs described J&K as a dynamic place for building tourism infrastructure, development projects and educational institutes. “We were told that there is too much corruption in Kashmir. Money which comes from the Central government does not reach projects and seems to disappear somewhere in the system,” they said.

On the criticism they face from some groups, the MEPs said, “How can a journalist make a joke? If we were Nazis, then the people of our country would not have trusted us. Please study the biography, except if you want to make propaganda.”

The MEPs said they would invite people to visit Kashmir “but it requires safe conditions”. “The first condition is to fight terrorism in this part of India,” they added.

The parliamentarians criticised Pakistan for violence against the Christian community there. “We trust in freedom of religion. We are worried about the situation of Christians in Pakistan,” they said, mentioning the case of Asiya Bibi.

The MEPs, drawn from around six countries, plan to prepare a report on Kashmir. “We are witness to the situation now. We will prepare a report. This mission could be useful,” they said.

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