Indian MPs not allowed in Kashmir due to security: MHA

According to Reddy, the Jammu and Kashmir government has reported that 27 MEPs, who belonged to different political parties including ruling and opposition parties, paid a private visit to India from October 28 to November 1 at the invitation of a Delhi-based think-tank.

Indian Parliamentarians were not allowed to enter Kashmir to meet people after the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir "due to security concerns" while meetings were facilitated for European Parliament MPs as part of a familiarisation visit, government informed Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy's written response came on questions asked by Samajwadi Party MP Sukhram Singh Yadav who asked about whether the Members of European Parliament (MEPs) received government permission, who organised the visit, justification for denying Indian MPs visit and allowing the foreign delegation's travel in Kashmir.

According to Reddy, the Jammu and Kashmir government has reported that 27 MEPs, who belonged to different political parties including ruling and opposition parties, paid a private visit to India from October 28 to November 1 at the invitation of a Delhi-based think-tank International Institute for Nonaligned Studies (IINS).

Amid several Opposition leaders who attempted to visit Kashmir after the scrapping of special status were not allowed to go out of Srinagar airport raising criticism, Reddy informed the House that the Indian delegation of MPs were "not allowed to visit Kashmir Valley due to security concerns".

Oppositon leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Sharad Yadav and Ghulam Nabi Azad others were earlier denied permission to enter Kashmir.

In his justification of the MEPs' visit, he said meetings were facilitated for them as has been "done previously on familiarisation visits" for the delegation.

"Further, the MEPs had expressed their desire that they would like to visit Kashmir to understand how terrorism is affecting India and how this has been a challenge for India. They got a sense of the threat of terrorism and how terrorism poses a threat to India especially in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Such exchanges promote deeper people to people contact and ultimately it feeds into the larger relationship which any two countries would like to develop," he said.

The MEP delegation visit had ran into controversy after it came to light that most of the visiting MPs belonged to right-wing and far-right parties. An MP also claimed his invitation was cancelled later as he had views that were not in consonance with the stand of the Indian government.

Questions were also raised about the organisers even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met the delegation.

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