EU MPs land in Kashmir

EU MPs land in Kashmir

SRINAGAR: A delegation of European Union parliamentarians which arrived on a day-long visit in the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday met some panchayat members, few businessmen, youth activists and a few politicians in Srinagar briefly amid a complete shutdown in the valley.
The EU office in India has distanced itself from the visit of the parliamentarians invited by the government of India.
The visit of the handpicked parliamentarians has been facilitated by the Indian government amid international criticism and outcry over the abrogation of J&K’s special status and subsequent clampdown in Kashmir.
Sources said that some 15 groups comprising of 60 people met the 23-member delegation at the open lawn of Taj Vivanta together for some 20 minutes in all.
The groups, they said, were gathered to have conversation in an unstructured and unorganised way with the members.
Panchs and Sarpanchs were among the groups too.
BJP Spokesperson Altaf Thakur was the only one who had close interaction with them.
“It was a selective meeting of people who were informally invited for the interaction,” one of the organisers told Kashmir Reader.
“We had called some known people sought their consent on phone, and held the meeting.”
One of visiting parliamentarians from the group told reporters that they were conscious that some people were being kept away from meeting them.
“We are looking for facts. We are very conscious about Kashmir visit. We are here to know what is happening,” Spanish delegate Hermann Tertsh said. “We are very conscious that some people are being kept away from us.”
Asked about how the group sums up the visit, he said, “We have not yet enough facts to come to the conclusion.”
Some of those who met the delegation confirmed that they were informed about the meeting on phone.
There was no prominent business, civil society group in the meeting.
They apprised them about the business losses, corruption in the state, delegation of powers, unemployment, resumption of normalcy, and restoration of statehood.
A youth activist Tawseef Raina, who unsuccessfully contested municipal elections last year, talked about the making borders irrelevant, and having European pattern of ‘development and property’ in South Asia.
Kashmir Head of JDU, G M Shaheen said that he appraised the delegation about need for restoration of normalcy, release of political leaders, and restoration of statehood.
“Since revoked articles cannot be brought back, I asked for the restoration of the statehood,” he said.
BJP’s Thakur told the delegation about the “importance of abrogation of article 370” for eradication of “terrorism,” and developmental issues.
The delegation arrived on Tuesday for an assessment of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of the state’s special status under Article 370.
Before their brief chat with the local delegation, they met GOC of Army’s 15 Corps at Badamibagh.
Later the EU delegation had a shikara ride in the Dal lake.
The team originally comprised of 27 parliamentarians, mostly from extreme right or right wing parties, but four did not travel to Kashmir and have reportedly returned to their respective countries, officials said.
A complete shutdown was witnessed in Kashmir amid sporadic clashes between youth and government forces on their arrival.

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