The Diwali fireworks have hardly died down, and there’s a new ‘dhamaka’ on ‘New India’s political scenario. We’ve heard that some foreign lawmakers are starting off on a trip to Kashmir!
The question being asked widely is this: Why is the Indian Government allowing MPs from the European Parliament to visit Jammu & Kashmir, when it has not allowed Members of the Indian parliament unrestricted access to Jammu and Kashmir?
The ‘lockdown’ and civil disobedience in Kashmir entered the 83rd day on Monday. Entry to Srinagar remains restricted. Ordinary Indians can’t travel there on a whim. Our own lawmakers can’t move about in Kashmir.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury had to obtain permission from the Supreme Court of India to visit the state and he was allowed to meet only his party colleague Yusuf Taregami. He was also sternly told not to engage in any politics.
Similarly, Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi was sent back from the Srinagar airport. Former BJP leader and finance minister Yashwant Sinha was physically put on a wheelchair and forced into a plane to New Delhi by security personnel.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, after being refused permission to enter the state on several occasions, was finally allowed for a restricted visit, shadowed all the time by Intelligence and security agencies.
So the 100-dollar question is this: Why has the Government of India suddenly allowed a large group of 28 European Parliament Members to visit the state? Hours after the EU MPs called on the PM and were briefed by the NSA Ajit Doval, questions began to circulate on Monday about their background and credentials.
People were quick to point out that the visit of EU MPs is not an ‘official’ one. Nobody seems to know how they were singled out and selected and by whom; nor is it clear who had invited them.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh fired the first salvo and tweeted, “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!”
Former diplomat and Ambassador K.C. Singh tweeted, “If some, hopefully not most, European MEPs, as is emerging, are from fascist, anti-immigrant & Islamophobic parties then BJP & government may have erred seriously in their unseemly hurry to get approval of westerners, of whatever ilk. It shall be counter-productive abroad.”
A retired Army officer tweeted, “Indian opposition leaders cannot visit Kashmir. But European leaders can visit. India’s internal matter to solved by external delegation. Opposition parties should first meet them and make sure that Indian leaders are also part of the delegation.”
A journalist tweeted this : I’ve searched the #EuropeanParliament website and can find no mention of a delegation to India to investigate #Kashmir, as widely reported in Indian news outlets. It is unclear how these MPs were selected, by whom and with what mandate and reporting requirements.
Now here’s what one newspaper had to say: The visit, comes barely a week after the Government of India found itself at the receiving end in the US Congress for its Kashmir policy. So this appears to be a deliberate attempt by GOI at damage control.
As for these MPs (most of whom are Right Wing MPS, says another report) Will they be allowed to address the media, in India or in Brussels, on their impressions? And will that amount to engaging in politics?
India watches as this new drama unfolds…