The Kashmir Valley’s residents may wonder why the Narendra Modi government bothered sending a group of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Srinagar on Tuesday if the MEPs wouldn’t be allowed to meet ordinary folk, and merely take shikara rides on Dal Lake, and attend a military briefing.
The likely truth is that the handpicked MEPs (it must be stressed that it was not a European Parliament delegation) got their crucial briefing and imparting of the official line in New Delhi on Monday. Srinagar was just for the joyride and to grab the dateline.
The exercise was shabby from the start. An NGO no one has heard of played host. And yet, the vice-president of India, the PM, the external affairs minister and the national security adviser fawned on this gaggle of foreigners, whose distinguishing feature was that they mostly belong to far-right parties (subscribing to ideologies that discriminate on the basis of religion or colour) and were not above cadging a trip to picturesque Kashmir. It will be interesting to see on what octave they sing their paean of praise. It is not even clear if the NGO in question had the wherewithal to host 27 European guests. Is it, then, an RSS or BJP front which hobnobs with like-minded entities internationally — a sort of Ultra-Right International? It may be interesting to probe the NGO and its other activities.
Of the 27 MEPs invited, four declined to go to Kashmir with the rest of the group. They apparently asked to be permitted to meet people more generally in the Valley and steer away from the guided tour in a limited way, and weren’t allowed to do so. This must be the ultimate ignominy for the government.
New Delhi has been made to look small by the US, Europe and the UN who have raised questions in public more than once about the shocking goings-on since August 5, when J&K’s constitutional status was revoked, all mainstream politicians locked up, and a communications and media gag imposed on the Valley. The government was getting marginalised in public perception — its only supporters being a clutch of police states in West Asia. But to come out of the hole that it dug for itself, did it need this? Whose bright idea was it? And who are the real funders? The questions are pertinent.
The vulgarity of the show put on for a few Europeans as a mark of supplication flags a few points: The MEPs were not permitted to meet any of the jailed politicians in the Valley; they were not even allowed to meet sitting Kashmir MPs; and that New Delhi feted a few European politicians in the Valley while having earlier turned back Indian political leaders and MPs, including a former J&K chief minister. A prominent BJP MP, Dr Subramanian Swamy, has said that the visit of the MEPs “lacked a moral basis”....