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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Kashmiris Came Out And Stood Up Against Modi’s European Friends’ Delegation

Indian opposition leaders, American senator and international media is not allowed to visit the Indian-occupied Kashmir. But PM Modi has invited his like-minded friends from Europe to seek political legitimacy. Has the move backfired?

Protests and clashes erupted in Indian-occupied Kashmir, as a delegation of mostly far-right members of the European Parliament paid a contentious visit to the Muslim-majority region stripped of its autonomy in August, reported international media.

The people of Kashmir came out of their residences and protested against the illegal Indian annexation and rejected the visit of a few select PM Modi’s friends. Liberal politicians and the opposition party in India have criticized the visit of far-right lawmakers who enjoy little or no credibility at the International stage.

It is important to note that the European Parliament members are the first foreign delegation to visit Kashmir since New Delhi revoked the region’s autonomy on August 5. It is, however, not an official delegation from the European Union.

The delegation of approximately 30 European MPs, including far-right deputies from Poland, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, prompting accusations that it aimed to blunt criticism of New Delhi over Kashmir.

One member from the UK’s centrist Liberal Democrats, Chris Davies, said the Indian government withdrew his invitation after he insisted on being able to talk to locals without a police escort. “I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well,” Davies said in a statement.

With a curfew in many parts of the main city, Srinagar, police fired tear gas and shotgun pellets as about 40 clashes flared across the Kashmir Valley, officials said.

Late on Monday, a truck driver was shot dead, the sixth such killing targeting the vital apple sector, while a grenade injured 20 people elsewhere, authorities said.

Far-right ‘Giants’

The delegation included members of the nationalist, anti-immigration and eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, France’s National Rally, the Brexit Party and Poland’s Law and Justice party.

The Indian government said that the aim was to give the deputies “a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity” of the region.

Read more: Washington tells India to Ensure Normalcy in Occupied Kashmir

The move to give rare access to European Parliament members has been criticised by opposition parties, as Indian MPs have been denied permission to visit the region that has been under security lockdown for more than 80 days now.

Earlier this month, a United States senator was also barred from visiting the Himalayan region.

Rahul Gandhi of the Congress Party tweeted late Monday: “MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu & #Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned & denied entry. There is something very wrong with that.”

Brinda Karat from the Communist Party of India (Marxist) castigated the government for the trip saying that Prime Minister Modi wanted to show “everything is normal in Kashmir”. “BJP is trying to paint a picture to the world that everything is normal in Kashmir and they hope these kinds of delegations will send that message. There is nothing normal about Kashmir,” she told media.

Human Rights violations in Kashmir

Pakistan has been making all possible efforts to highlight the state of human rights in Indian occupied Kashmir where innocent Kashmiris are being targeted. Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan had called upon the United Nations Human Rights Council to immediately set up an independent investigation commission to probe human rights abuses in occupied Kashmir as recommended in the two OHCHR reports on the disputed territory.

A report was also issued by the UN expressing severe reservations over human rights violations in the valley. The report of the United Nations’ Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) on Kashmir concluded that the situation in India occupied Kashmir is worst. Christine Chung, one of the authors of the report was invited to the event by the sub-committee. It is worth noting here that the OHCHR issued its first-ever report on the situation in Kashmir June 14, 2018.

Read more: Kashmiris are Not Alone in World: US Politicians Urging India for Transparency

The report highlights the protests after the martyrdom of Burhan Wani in 2016 and the brutal use of pellet guns against protesters among the human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir. The report noted that Indian armed forces not only use force indiscriminately but also rape and humiliate Kashmiri women. A member of the European Parliament also called on India “to end violence against women & children in IOK. Voices of Kashmiri women & children must be heard.”

The international community has raised its concerns over the brutalities being committed by India. Recently, the European Parliament stood up for the people of Kashmir. “Members of European Parliament called on India to immediately put a halt to its atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir and carry out investigations into the incidents of grave human rights violations.”