New Delhi: Welcoming Members of European Parliament to India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, 28 October 2019, expressed the hope that they would have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including Jammu and Kashmir.
Ahead of the European Parliament Members’ Kashmir visit, a terrorist hurled a grenade in a busy area of Sopore at 4 pm on Monday, injuring at least 19 persons. Six of them, who were critically injured, were rushed to Srinagar.
The visit to Jammu and Kashmir should give the European Union delegation a better understanding of the cultural and religious diversity of the region of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh; apart from giving them a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region, the Prime minister said.
Modi appreciated the importance the EU Parliamentarians attach to their relationship with India by visiting the country right at the beginning of their term.
The Prime Minister said that India’s relationship with the European Union is based on shared interests and common commitment to democratic values. He said that an early conclusion of a fair and balanced BTIA is a priority for the government.
Talking about the need to strengthen engagement with EU on regional and global matters, the Prime Minister highlighted the importance of close international cooperation to fight terrorism. He also mentioned about the growth of International Solar Alliance as a global partnership.
Modi underscored the huge jump in India’s position in Ease of Doing Business rankings from 142 in 2014 to 63 currently. He said that this is a massive achievement for a country as enormous in size, demography and diversity as India. Governance systems are today enabling people to move in aspirational direction, he said.
The Prime Minister also underlined the focus of the government on ensuring Ease of Living for all Indians. He especially spoke about the success of key programmes of the Government including Swachh Bharat and Ayushman Bharat. He reiterated India’s commitment to eliminate TB by 2025, five years before the global target. He also talked about steps taken for environment protection and conservation including enhanced renewable energy targets and the people’s movement against single use plastics.
Opposition leaders: Are they bent upon helping Pakistan?
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Monday strongly criticised the decision to allow the Members of European Parliament to visit Kashmir and said that the delegation’s visit to the Valley was a lose-lose situation for the government. Through her Twitter account, Mehbooba Mufti has asked: “If 28 European Parliament members are allowed to take stock of situation in Kashmir, wonder why the same courtesy can’t be extended to American senators”.
Trying to upstage Prime Minister Modi, who has achieved a diplomatic victory over Pakistan by isolating it on the Kashmir issue, a few Congress leaders, including Jairam Ramesh have expressed views that are in tandem with those of Mehbooba Mufti. Some Congress Twitterati are also picking headlines from Al Jazeera and Telegraph India and are busy branding the Delegation of European Parliament visiting India as representatives of right wing parties.
CPI General Secretary D Raja and CPI(M) general-secretary Sitaram Yechury also have asked why members of the European Parliament were being welcomed in Jammu and Kashmir when Indian political leaders had been prevented from doing so.