UPDATE: J&K: EU delegation briefed the situation, ride shikara

NEW DELHI: Amid heightened tension, a delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) reached here on Tuesday to gauge the local situation and met various groups.

After checking into at a five-star hotel here, the MEPs were taken to the Army”s 15 Corps headquarters at Badami Bagh where top army commanders briefed them about the situation in Kashmir.

The MEPs then took a ”shikara” ride on the Dal Lake, for about 20 minutes, before returning to their hotel.

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Opposition, left parties hit out at BJP

The opposition parties, including the Congress, have slammed the government for allowing EU MPs to visit Kashmir, saying while it was allowing the MEPs, it was preventing local leaders from doing so.

The MEPs have come under criticism after it emerged that several of them belonged to right-wing parties in Italy, France and Germany.

A 28-member European Union (EU) parliamentary delegation has visited Srinagar on Tuesday after the government gave permission for the “unofficial” visit.

National embarrassment

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said the ruling NDA-led-BJP government has embarked on an “ill-advised PR exercise, sponsoring individuals with questionable credentials”.

“EU MPs representing parties and ideologies in direct conflict with the mainstream. Diplomatic disaster which ended up internationalising what is essentially our internal issue. National embarrassment. Those responsible should be held accountable,” Sharma said in a series of tweets.

Senior Congress party leader Jairam Ramesh asked in a tweet, “If EU delegation visit to Kashmir can be facilitated by #BJP Govt then why can’t Indian Leaders belonging to Opposition Parties visit #Kashmir ? Indians have to knock door of Supreme Court to visit Kashmir & EU delegation is welcomed by PMO, Why no level playing field?”

Own elected representatives

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad has hit out at the BJP government for not allowing ‘own elected representatives’ to visit the region. 

Disruptive decision

Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s daughter, Iltija Mufti, who operates her mother’s Twitter account, posted:

“Reports of stone pelting & massive shutdown in Srinagar today. Wondering what outcome GOI expected by sending a group of mostly right leaning Islamophobic EUMPs to Kashmir? Were you expecting nine million oppressed Kashmiris to lay out a red carpet for them?”

“To justify a hare brained disruptive decision, India’s democratic credentials are being sullied internationally.”

It was the first visit by a foreign delegation to Kashmir after the revocation of its special status.

The EU delegation visited to Kashmir — the first such visit to the Valley after the revocation of its special status under Article 370 on August 5.

Their visit comes just ahead of the October 31 formal bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories (UT) – of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Sporadic incidents & shutdown

Incidents of stone pelting and clashes were reported from several areas in Srinagar including Chanpora, Rambagh, Maisuma and others, leaving six people reportedly injured.

Shops and businesses remained closed and even private transport was playing less than routine in view of heightened tension. In some areas, youths had blocked the road to prevent the movement of traffic.

There were also reports of firing on a security patrol in Drubgaon in Pulwama in south Kashmir, but no injuries were reported so far. The area was cordoned off after the firing, with additional forces. Meanwhile, 60,000 students appeared for their Class 10 exams in 4,000 centres across the Valley.

With agencies inputs

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