Article 370 internal issue, stand by India in fight against terror: EU leaders in Kashmir
The 23 EU members of Parliament (MEPs), who were taken by the Indian government on a two-day visit to Kashmir, on Wednesday said Article 370 is India's internal matter and they stand by the country in its fight against terrorism.
The MEPs condemned the killing of five labourers from Bengal by militants on Tuesday.
The position stated by the team is akin to the Indian government's position on Kashmir. Delhi has maintained that Article 370 is India's internal matter. One of the reasons the Centre has cited for scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is militancy.
'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 killing of five innocent labourers by terrorists. We condemn it,' said Henri Malosse from France, who is not an MEP. He is associated with a Brussels-based think tank Vocal Europe. Malosse was with the MEPs in India when they met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Malosse said the team got a briefing from the Indian Army and the police as well as young activists and exchanged 'ideas of peace'.
Newton Dunn, a Liberal Democrat MEP from the UK, described the visit as one aimed at getting a first-hand assessment of the situation after the revocation of the state's special status. He described his 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.
The team is the first high-level foreign visit to Kashmir after the Centre's August 5 decision to revoke the state's special status and bifurcate it into two Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The Union territories will come into existence on October 31.
SOme of the MEPs said the media coverage was biased. An MEP from Poland, Ryszard Czarnecki, said: 'The international media coverage seems biased. Once we go back to our countries we will inform them of what we saw.'
Thierry Mariani from France told the media he had come to India several times and this visit was not to interfere in any internal matter 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.
He said that 'by calling us fascists, our image has been tarnished. It's better that one should know about us properly before tarnishing our image.' Several media reports in India had pointed out that many of the full list of 27 MEPs were either Right-wing politicians or members of far-Right outfits in their home countries.
The team originally had 27 European parliamentarians, but four did not travel to Kashmir and reportedly returned to their respective countries, officials said, without divulging any reason.
The team arrived in Kashmir on Tuesday to a complete shutdown and incidents of stone throwing and clashes in several parts of Srinagar and the Valley.
On Monday, the MEPs met Modi in Delhi.