By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - India has allowed a group of over two dozen members of European Union (EU) parliament to visit Jammu and Kashmir region on Tuesday, local media reported.
The EU parliamentarians met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Monday in the capital New Delhi, according to India’s ANI news agency.
This will be the first high-profile visit of any foreign delegation to Jammu and Kashmir since India scrapped special provisions granted to the region under Indian constitution on Aug. 5 this year.
A total of 28 EU parliamentarians from Italy, Britain, France, Germany, and Poland -- including 22 members representing right-wing parties in their respective countries -- are reportedly visiting in their personal capacity.
Geeta Mohan, foreign affairs editor of India Today, wrote on Twitter: “The European Union office in Delhi is not aware of any official visit. All the 27 MEPs are in Delhi in their private capacity and not as #EU's official delegation to visit #Kashmir.”
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti took to Twitter to comment on the planned visit of the EU parliamentarians.
“Hope they [EU Delegation] get a chance to speak to the people, local media, doctors and civil society members. The iron curtain between Kashmir & the world needs to be lifted and GoI [government of India] must be held accountable for pushing J&K into turmoil,” she said.
Questioning the visit of EU parliamentarian to Kashmir, India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) lawmaker Subramaniam Swamy tweeted: “I am surprised that the MEA [Ministry of External Affiars] has arranged for European Union MPs, in their private capacity [Not EU's official delegation], to visit Kashmir area of J&K. This is a perversion of our national policy. I urge the Government cancel this visit because it is immoral.”
During his meeting with the EU delegation, Modi hoped that the visit will “give them a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region”, News 18 website reported.
The issue of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the oldest unresolved international conflict on the UN Security Council agenda since 1948.
India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but it is India and Pakistan who have fought two wars over Kashmir.
India-administered Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since Aug. 5, when New Delhi scrapped the special status of the region, previously codified in the Indian Constitution's Article 370, which allowed it to enact its own laws.
The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling in and owning land in the territory.
India has maintained that 93% of the restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.