EU MPs in Kashmir say Article 370 internal issue, stand by India in fight against terror
EU delegation enjoys at Dal Lake in Srinagar on Tuesday
CAPPING a visit that attracted controversy and opposition ire, EU parliamentarians visiting Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday termed Article 370 an internal issue of India and said they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism. The 23 members of European Parliament, who flew into a restive Kashmir Valley pockmarked by shutdowns and clashes for a twoday visit on Tuesday, also condemned the killing of five migrant labourers from West Bengal by terrorists in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district. “If we talk about Article 370, it is India’s internal matter. What concerns us is terrorism which is a global menace and we should stand with India in fighting it.
There was an unfortunate incident of the killing of five innocent labourers by terrorists. We condemn it,” said Henri Malosse from France. Malosse, a former President of the European Economic and Social Committee, said the team got a briefing from the Indian Army and police as well as young activists and exchanged “ideas of peace”. Several of the 23 MPs belong to Right and far Right parties and are not part of the mainstream in their own countries. The visit has been cloaked in controversy with several questions raised on its funding and some reports suggesting it was organised by an NGO that promised a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The two-day trip, to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir,is significan tfor more than one reason. It is the first high-level foreign visit to Kashmir after the August5 decisionoftheCentre to revoke the State’s Special Status under Article 370 and downsize it into two Union Territories. And it ended on the last day of Jammu and Kashmir’s existence as a State. On Thursday, the Statewillbebifurcatedinto theUnionTerritoriesofJammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. MEP from Poland Ryszard Czarnecki said the international media coverage on Kashmir seems biased. “Once we go back to our countries we will inform them ofwhatwesaw,”the leader from the PrawoiSprawiedliwoscparty said. Newton Dunn from the Liberal Democrat party in the UK described the visit as an “eye-opener”.
“We belong to a place Europe which is peaceful after years of fighting. And we want to see India becoming the most peaceful country in the world. And for that we need to stand by India in its fight against global terrorism.This visit has been an eye-opener and we would definitely advocate what we have seen on ground zero,” he told reporters. Thierry Mariani, a member of the Rassemblement National party inFrance, told themedia he had been to India many times and this visit was not to interfere in the internal matter of India but to get a first-hand knowledge of the ground situation in Kashmir. “Terrorists can destroy a country. I have been to Afghanistan and Syria and I have seen what terrorism has done. We stand with India in its fight against terrorism,” he said.