SRINAGAR: Centre has embarked on `Mission Kashmir 2.0’ by allowing 28-member European Union (EU) Parliamentarians to visit Kashmir for on the first time since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.

Around 41 people including 28 EU Parliamentarians, are arriving here on Tuesday for on the spot assessment of the situation in Kashmir. It is for the first time since August 5 when Centre abrogated J&K special status and divided the state into union territories, that any foreign delegation has been allowed to travel to Kashmir. 

However, political parties demanded that the EU members should be allowed to meet common people, civil society groups and three detained chief ministers for “objective and fair assessment” of the situation in Kashmir.

“We will welcome it only when the delegation is given access to the people, civil society members and three chief ministers who are detained since August 5. On the spot, the assessment will be objective only if they are allowed to meet people, civil society members and political leaders so that they can articulate their viewpoints. Unless they are given a free hand, this exercise cannot be meaningful”, said Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, NC MP from Anantnag constituency.

Justice Masoodi said three chief ministers –Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti are in jail and EU leaders should be given access to them. “Omar Sahab has been a foreign minister at some point in time. They are at the helm of affairs. They should be allowed to meet them. They are allowed to have a fair and objective assessment on the ground”, he said.

Iltija Mufti, daughter of detained former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, said it is not official delegation but some random “pro right” MPs on a private visit. “I called the EU office in Delhi, and I was told they are on a private visit. We need to ask, who sponsored them and who facilitated their visit?. Why this visit when India says Kashmir is an integral part of the country. They do not allow Rahul Gandhi to visit Kashmir. But they are facilitated some random EU MPs. Some information has come that most of them are pro right and anti-Islam”, said Iltija Mufti, daughter of incarcerated former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. 

The visit of EU delegation comes at a time when Kashmir shutdown has entered into 84th day. Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) have pegged the business losses at Rs 10000 crore in the last 84 days of hartal

Around one lakh people, mostly in the tourism and IT sector, have lost jobs due to the shutdown. Though the government had reopened schools, students have preferred to stay home.

Thousands of people including three former chief ministers –Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have been detained in Kashmir. The Internet has been shut for the last 84 days. Though postpaid mobiles and landlines are operational, prepaid phones continue to remain suspended.

Ishfaq Ul Hassan

An accredited journalist with 22 years of professional experience, Ishfaq-Ul-Hassan has worked as a reporter based in Kashmir for two decades. He has covered various beats including militancy, politics, defence, minorities, social issues, religious groups and women issues in Kashmir. He had previously worked as Special Correspondent in Jammu and Kashmir for DNA (Daily News and Analysis) Newspaper for 13 years. Ishfaq is also associated with the New Delhi- based television company `Asia Pacific Communication Associates’ which produced the famous series “Subah-Bakhar-Kashmir” for satellite Kashmir channel of Doordarshan. In 2004, he was awarded the Charkha-Sanjoy Ghosh Fellowship for Peace and Development for his research on families divided across the LOC in Kashmir.

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