The delegation of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) visiting Kashmir, on Wednesday, regretted the killing of six non-locals by suspected militants in south Kashmir. They said “terrorism is a severe problem in Kashmir” and named Pakistan as its source.
“Terrorism is not finished yet in Kashmir. Terrorism in Kashmir is not only the problem of India. I think it’s our problem, as well as of the international community. We support India in fighting for a solution to the problem,” four of the team told a select group of media in Srinagar’s Old Airfield.
Those MEPs who addressed the press were Bill Newton from the UK, Henri Maloose from France, Ryszard Czarnecki from Poland and Mariana Thierry from France.
The parliamentarians claimed that they interacted with youth, politicians, women and traders during their two-day stay in Kashmir and termed it a “beginning of their engagement” with the civil society in the State.
“We are here to get information. We are well equipped now and can go back and share this with our colleagues and respective countries. The situation is not as bad as we thought. People here want peace, better life and better vocations, and want jobs. Terrorism has destroyed such dreams,” they said.
Mr. Newton said the United Kingdom also faced the problem of Northern Ireland, where Christians fought Christians. “Fighting is not a solution. India has a long procedure of talks, agreeing to talk and listening to each other. It is for talks that Northern Ireland is a peaceful place now. My advice is talk and don’t fight,” he said.
Referring to the presentations of the Army and the police, the MEPs said, “Most terrorists killed in J&K have come from abroad, in fact they came from Pakistan. It is an international problem. All protests should be directed against terrorism.”
On India’s move to change J&K’s constitutional status on August 5, they said the change was an internal issue. “It should not be used [against India],” they said.
‘Dynamic place for tourism’
The MEPs described J&K as a dynamic place for building tourism infrastructure, development projects and educational institutes. “We were told that there is too much corruption in Kashmir. Money which comes from the Central government does not reach projects and seems to disappear somewhere in the system,” they said.
On the criticism they face from some groups, the MEPs took a jibe at journalists, saying, “How can a journalist make a joke? If we were Nazis, then the people of our country would not have trusted us. Please study the biography, except if you want to make propaganda.”
The MEPs said they would invite people to visit Kashmir “but it requires safe conditions”. “The first condition is to fight terrorism in this part of India,” they added.
The MEPs criticised Pakistan for violence against the Christian community there. “We trust in freedom of religion. We are worried about the situation of Christians in Pakistan,” they said, while mentioning the case of Asiya Bibi.
The MEPs, drawn from around six countries, plan to prepare a report on Kashmir. “We are witness to the situation now. We will prepare a report. This mission could be useful,” they said.