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Turned out, EU MPs Kashmir visit was sponsored, PR exercise

I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well, Chris says

Wednesday October 30, 2019 7:27 PM, ummid.com News Network

EU Delegation's Kashmir Visit

[PM Modi with one of the members of EU delegation in New Delhi on Sunday.]

New Delhi: In a major embarrassment to Modi government, it is now turned out that the European Parliamentarians' Kashmir visit to review the situation in the erstwhile state after the abrogation of Article 370 was sponosred by a lobby group, a number of media reports have claimed.

Making it worse for the Modi government, a British member of the European Parliament (MEP) has claimed that his invitation to Kashmir visit was withdrawn after he insisted on unfettered access and moving unaccompanied in Srinagar.

Diplomatic Blunder

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala has said that over the last three days, India witnessed an immature, ill-advised and ill-conceived PR exercise of the BJP government organized by an "international business broker", in which 27 members of the European Parliament were brought to India by a non-descript think tank with questionable credentials to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visit Kashmir and hold a press briefing.

"Only 23 went to Kashmir on a BJP government-facilitated trip as four members returned back from Delhi itself", he said.

The Congress also sought answers from the government on who is Madi Sharma, who facilitated the EU delegation's trip to Kashmir.

"Modi Government has made a spectacle of India's diplomacy by outsourcing diplomacy to an 'International Business Broker'. Will the Prime Minister tell us who is Madi Sharma? What is BJP's connection to 'Women's Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT)' as also to 'International Institute for Non-aligned Studies'?" he asked.

"Why and in what capacity is Madi Sharma fixing an appointment with the Prime Minister for a delegation of EU MPs on a personal visit and why is Government of India facilitating it? Where is the money to finance the entire visit coming from? Why has MEA been completely sidelined?" he asked.

"The truth is that this is the biggest 'diplomatic blunder' in India's history", the Congress said.

"Modi Government has committed a grave sacrilege by introducing a third party to assess the ground situation in Kashmir and that also through an unknown think tank. By doing so, Government has caused an affront to India's sovereign right over Jammu & Kashmir," said Surjewala.

'Not prepared to take part in a PR stunt'

On the other hand, Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat MEP, said the invitation from the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT) was withdrawn after he insisted on moving unaccompanied in Srinagar.

“On the 7th of October, I received an invitation to go to Kashmir…. I wrote back and said I’d be very happy to come but I do want the chance to meet ordinary Kashmiri citizens without any policeman standing next to me", Chris Davies is quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

“They replied and said, ‘Ooooo, security….’ They came back and first of all said ‘we will do what we can’. The day after they said, ‘Sorry, the trip is full’. The argument they used was there was no space left. It does seem to me that I was no longer seen as likely to be a friendly supporter", he said.

On Tuesday, Davies listed in a statement the same conditions he had emailed for accepting Madi Sharma’s invitation.

“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", Chris said.

Meanwhile, hashtag #BJPkaFarziRashtravad trended on Twitter all through the day with memes and posts questioning Modi government's handling of India's foriegn policy and Kashmir issue.

"Seoul Peace Prize for PM Modi - organised by Westt NGO. Philip Kotler Award for PM Modi - organised by Westt NGO. 27 MEPs invitation, meeting with PM and unofficial tour to Kashmir - organised by Westt NGO ...Is it a coincidence or a carefully organised PR stunt", says one message posted on Twitter with a meme.

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