The opposition is creating noise over members of the European Parliament visiting Jammu and Kashmir. Their contention falls mostly on two counts.
- By allowing members of European Parliament PM Modi is ‘internationalising’ Kashmir issue.
- While foreign delegation is visiting Jammu and Kashmir, India’s political class cannot because of restrictions.
Before going to the details, let’s see the facts that counter these claims.
- Just allowing the members of the European Parliament doesn’t amount to ‘internationalisation’ of Kashmir. India is not asking anyone to mediate in J&K like our first Prime Minister did by taking the J&K issue to the United Nations.
- European delegations had visited Kashmir even in the times of UPA. Congress must remember that in the two separate occasions quoted above in which the EU delegation had visited the valley in the UPA era, they held talks with the separatists as well. Now, the time has changed with the separatist like Yasin Malik is facing the law on serious charges of terror.
- It is true that initially when the Article 370 was abrogated there were restrictions on visits of politicians to the valley because of the obvious reason that the priority at that time was to maintain law and order, not political posturing, especially given the fact that some parties were looking to whip up tension. Afterwards, many opposition leaders did visit J&K and Rahul Gandhi’s claim that the opposition is kept away from the state is not true.
Congress Objections and the Facts
Let’s see what is Rahul Gandhi’s take on members of the European Union Parliament visiting the valley. His claim is while EU delegation is free to visit the valley, the opposition is banned.
But contrary to the claim of Rahul Gandhi, his own party man Ghulam Nabi Azad undertook a six-day tour in September as reported here.
Another leader from the opposition side had visited the valley in end of the August itself.
So, while it is true that there are reasonable restrictions for political activities in the valley, arguing that there is a complete ban of a sort on visits of political leaders is far from the truth as the above instances prove.
In another misleading narrative, Randeep Surjewala of Congress tries to portray it as some sort of ‘outsiders deciding India’s case’, which is a blatant falsehood considering that a European delegation had visited the valley even during Congress-led UPA’s tenure.
The question is, was it fair in 2009 and 2011 to let EU members to tour the valley and wrong when the present government does that?
Jairam Ramesh of the Congress has said that letting EU members visiting the valley is an insult to Indian democracy while Anand Sharma has said “this stand of the government is self-defeating and contradicts or consistent position that J&K is India’s internal matter. Is this the new version of Indian nationalism.”
So, all these allegations of Kashmir issue being internationalised by the visit of EU members not really withstanding, let’s see what is the objective of this visit in reality. The media communication from the Prime Minister’s Office had already made that clear. Here is the relevant part of that communication.
“Prime Minister, while welcoming the delegation to India, expressed the hope that they have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including to Jammu and Kashmir. Their visit to Jammu and Kashmir should give the delegation a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; apart from giving them a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region.”