Why is govt. allowing EU MPs to visit J&K but preventing Indian leaders, asks Congress

A delegation of 25 Parliamentarians of the European Union are set to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday

Updated - December 03, 2021 06:59 am IST

Published - October 28, 2019 05:42 pm IST - New Delhi

Anand Sharma

Anand Sharma

Leaders from across the political spectrum expressed outrage at the government’s decision to take a delegation of European Union parliamentarians to Jammu and Kashmir , while no Indian parliamentarian has so far been allowed to visit.

The Congress questioned the move asking whether this is a “new version of Indian nationalism.” “Government rolling out the red carpet to EU MPs, briefing them and inviting them to visit Jammu and Kashmir is a disrespect to the sovereignty of Indian Parliament and violation of the privileges of Indian MPs,” Anand Sharma, the party’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha said.

On two occasions groups of Opposition leaders were sent back from Srinagar airport by the administration.

“This stand of the government is self-defeating and contradicts our consistent position that J&K is India’s internal matter. Is this the new version of Indian nationalism,” Mr. Sharma added.

Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh called it an “outright insult” of Indian Parliament. “When Indian political leaders have been prevented from meeting the people of J&K, what possessed the great chest-beating champion of nationalism to allow European politicians to visit J&K. This is an outright insult to India’s own Parliament and our democracy!” he said in a tweet.

Congress’ Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor also expressed similar views. “My request, made during the Lok Sabha debate on Article 370, for an all-party delegation of MPs to visit to see the situation for themselves, has still not been accepted. But members of the European Parliament can travel as our government’s guests? What an #InsultToIndianDemocracy!,” Mr. Tharoor said on Twitter.

BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy called the surprise visit of the EU parliamentarians as “perversion of national policy.”

“I am surprised that the MEA has arranged for European Union MPs, in their private capacity [Not EU’s official delegation],to visit Kashmir area of J&K. I urge the Government to cancel this visit because it is immoral,” he said.

CPI (M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was the only leader who was allowed to visit Srinagar on the directions of the Supreme Court. He was escorted by security officials to visit his colleague Yousuf Tarigami under heavy security. Citing a news report on the EU delegation’s visit, Mr. Yechury said on Twitter, “Then why were Indian political party leaders and MPs repeatedly prevented from exiting Srinagar airport? I was allowed to enter Srinagar only when the Supreme Court permitted me over my habeas corpus petition. Even today Indian MPs are not allowed while Modi welcomes MEPs! #Kashmir.”

CPI General Secretary D. Raja said the government needs to explain the rationale behind inviting the EU legislators. “When the Kashmiri politicians are detained and the Opposition leaders are sent back from Srinagar airport, how is that the Modi-Shah regime is facilitating the EU politicians. The government needs to explain why they were invited. It is clear that they are defensive in the face of world outrage on human rights violations in the State,” Mr. Raja said.

Iltija Mufti, who tweets on behalf of her mother former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in a tweet questioned whether only “fascist” leanings and “visceral hatred for Muslims” are key eligibility criteria to visit the State. “If scrapping Article 370 integrated J&K into India, why is Rahul Gandhi barred from visiting Kashmir? Instead, a group of far right & fascist leaning EU MPs is allowed by GOI. Your ticket to Kashmir is possible only if you’re a fascist with a visceral hatred for Muslims,” she said.

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