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Friday , December 6 2019

India allows EU lawmakers into Kashmir in first foreign visit since clampdown

In this photo released by government of India, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, front row in white dress, poses with a delegation of European Parliament members who called on him in New Delhi, India on Oct 28.

A group of European Union lawmakers will visit Indian Kashmir on Tuesday, the first foreign delegation since the special status of the Muslim majority territory was revoked, Indian officials said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government withdrew Kashmir’s autonomy in August, a move accompanied by a crackdown on dissent by security forces there, to head off protests. It has since said the situation is returning to normality.

Hundreds of people have been freed from detention and phone lines restored, although the internet remains suspended for fear it could be used to organise street demonstrations that have turned violent in the past in the region. Pakistan, which like India lays claim to the region, has condemned the change of status of the territory and warned it could drive more Muslims to extremism across the world.

The dispute over Kashmir has bedevilled relations between the two nuclear-armed nations and sparked two of their three wars. The EU delegation of 27 lawmakers drawn from 11 countries will meet with government officials and residents to assess the situation in Kashmir, Indian officials said.

The Europeans will be the first foreign group visiting Kashmir since August. This month, US members of Congress expressed concern over a lack of access for diplomats and foreign media. On Monday, the EU lawmakers met Modi who said the visit would give them a clear view of the development priorities of the region, his office said. (RTRS)

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