"Article 370 India's internal issue," say EU parliamentarians
Say European Union MPs who visited Kashmir; add that they stand by India in its fight against terror
Srinagar: 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 the European Parliament, who flew into a restive Kashmir Valley pockmarked by shutdowns and clashes for a two-day 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 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 he 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, is the first high-level foreign visit to Kashmir after the August 5 decision of the Centre 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 state will be bifurcated into the union territories of Jammu 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 of what we saw," he said. Newton Dunn from the Liberal Democrat party in the UK described the visit as an "eye-opener".
Thierry Mariani, a member of the Rassemblement National party in France, told the media 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.
No. of states in India from Oct 31
No. of union territories in India from Oct 31
Two new UTs to come into existence
History will be created on Thursday when Jammu and Kashmir, which has been part of the Union of India since 1947, will cease to be a state and be bifurcated into two Union Territories. IAS officers Girish Chandra Murmu and R K Mathur, have been appointed the new Lieutenant Governors (LG) for the Union territories (UTs) of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh respectively, and will be sworn-in in Srinagar and Leh on Thursday.
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