UK MEP claims J&K invite cancelled on ‘free access’ demand

Srinagar: The convoy of a delegation of the members of European Parliament that arrived in Srinagar, on Oct 29, 2019. According to sources, the delegation will be given presentation by the Jammu and Kashmir administration. The police will also brief the delegation about the security situation in the Valley.The first foreign delegation to visit Kashmir after the abrogation of article 370 will also meet a cross section of people in Kashmir.

London/New Delhi,  Chris Davies, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the UK, on Tuesday claimed he had received an invitation to travel to Jammu and Kashmir, but the offer was withdrawn after he insisted on “free access to speak with local people.”

Davies was to be part of the delegation of MEPs who visited Kashmir on Tuesday, the first foreign delegation to visit the region after the August 5 revocation of special status.

“I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well. It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice,” said Davies in a statement.

“I fear that this is not going to end well. Governments do not win the hearts and minds of people by taking away their freedoms and imposing military rule. The risk of a violent backlash is all too evident,” he said.

According to reports, the invite to the MEPs was issued by an organisation called WESTT – Women’s Economic & Social Think Tank.

In the invite to Davies, which is doing the rounds on social media, WESTT head Madi Sharma promises a “prestigious VIP meeting” with India’s Prime Minister, in addition to the Kashmir trip.

On Monday, members of the European Parliament met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi during which he expressed hope that they have a fruitful visit 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 government priorities of the region,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.