Clashes, shutdown as EU MPs reach Kashmir

Last Updated 29 October 2019, 11:21 IST

A delegation of 23 EU MPs arrived here on Tuesday for a first-hand assessment of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to a complete shutdown and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley.

A convoy of security vehicles escorted the MPs, who were travelling in bullet-proof jeeps, from the airport to their hotel where a traditional Kashmiri welcome awaited them.

The team, on a two-day visit, was briefed by senior security officials on the situation in the Valley and other parts of Jammu and Kashmir and also met delegations of the general public.

There was a complete shutdown in the city and at least four people were injured in numerous clashes between protesters and security forces in various parts of the Valley and in Srinagar, officials said.

People put up blockades in at least five different places in Srinagar, including Downtown Srinagar and 90 Feet Road. Shops and business establishments were closed and transport off the roads due to the clashes.

Vendors, who had been setting up their stall over the past weeks, also did not turn up on Tuesday, officials said. However, board examinations for Class 10 were held on schedule with worried parents waiting outside exam halls for their children.

This 23 EU MPs are the first high-level foreign visitors to Kashmir after the August 5 decision of the Centre to revoke Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and bifurcate the state into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.

The team originally comprised 27 parliamentarians, many from extreme right or right wing parties, but four did not travel to Kashmir and have reportedly returned to their respective countries, officials said without divulging any reason.

On Monday, the members of the European Parliament met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi. While welcoming the MPs to India, he "expressed the hope that they have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including 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 PMO statement said.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, who hosted a lunch for the 27 visitors, also gave them an overview of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

A few weeks ago, a senator of the United States was denied permission to visit Kashmir.

A joint delegation of opposition MPs, including Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, undertaking a visit to Kashmir about two months ago, was not allowed to go beyond the Srinagar airport after their arrival from Delhi and were sent back to the national capital.

(Published 29 October 2019, 11:18 IST)

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