What did the far-right European lawmakers see in Kashmir?
“We were told by the police to keep the shikaras moving in the lake so that the delegates can see the things are normal,” a boatman in Dal Lake said. An exclusive on the ground report from a Kashmiri journalist Srinagar.
Indian-occupied Kashmir- On Tuesday, when the delegation of 23 European Union lawmakers from far-right parties arrived in Indian-occupied Kashmir, they were greeted with empty streets.
In some areas of the region, people observed a civil curfew, even though there was no call for protests from any group as most of the pro-freedom politicians remain detained and in isolation.
Residents observed a complete shutdown and youth protested at more than 50 places across the valley.
Markets in Srinagar remained closed even during the early morning hours when shops have opened for around two hours to help service residents with essentials.
While the Indian government run by right-wing Hindu nationalist party, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), hyped up the visit by delegates, locals were not blind to type of delegates who had arrived to whitewash India’s crimes in the valley.
“These are people who have the same right-wing ideology like Modi and BJP. They came here to enjoy a boat ride in Dal Lake and dine at big army headquarters.”
“We did not have any expectations as they are now complicit with Modi’s action’s in Kashmir,” said Feroze Ahmad, a 36-year-old, banker in Kashmir.
What binds EU Parliamentarians visiting Kashmir? 'Anti-radical Islam' tweets
European Union (EU) MPs enjoy Shikara ride in Kashmir's Dal lake on Tuesday. (ANI) The visit of 23 European…
The delegation was escorted in a fleet of bullet-proof vehicles to the luxury hotels located on the slopes over-looking Dal Lake in the main city of Srinagar.
The delegation’s lunch was hosted by Indian army in its headquarters in the main city of Srinagar.
“Those delegates who have come here with the army - what can we expect from them?” asked a 40-year-old, resident, Ghulam Qadir.
“The government and army kills people here, cages us, blocks communication and still these members came here to give the backing to government’s definition of manufactured normalcy.”
Residents also questioned the government’s decision and said that the government was not allowing the human rights groups and international journalists to visit the Valley and they were making these far-right groups as “the mouthpiece for their propaganda”. The delegates met a selected group of people chosen by the government who were hiding their faces to escape the media present outside the venue.
“People are being blinded here , killed here and these group do not see that but they want to reinforce the idea if India’s normalcy in Kashmir,” said 25-year-old student, Aqib Farooq.
On Tuesday evening, the delegates were taken for a joy ride in Dal lake that has been deserted since the Indian government advised tourists to leave the Valley on August 3rd. Since then tourists have stayed away from the region affecting thousands of people associated with the tourism trade.
“We were told by the police to keep the shikaras moving in the lake so that the delegates can see the things are normal,” a boatman in Dal Lake said.
Clashes as far-right EU lawmakers on Kashmir 'PR' trip
Clashes have erupted in Indian-administered Kashmir, as a delegation of mostly far-right members of the European…
Local journalists were not allowed access to the delegation and a handful of reporters from Indian TV channels were allowed to meet them in a brief press conference.
Delegates said that “they sided with India in eradicating terrorism” and described the revocation of “Article 370 is India’s internal matter”.
Delegates also claimed to have met the locals.
One of the journalists who was present in the press conference said that they were not allowed to ask questions and the delegates said that international media coverage of current crisis in Kashmir has been biased.