Srinagar, October 30: Terming Article 370 an internal issue of India, EU parliamentarians visiting Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday said they stand by the country in its fight against global terrorism.
Addressing a press conference on the last day of their two-day visit to the Valley, the group of 23 members of European Parliament also condemned the killing of five labourers from West Bengal on Tuesday.
“If we talk about Article 370 it is India’s internal matter. What concerns us is terrorism which is a global menace and we should stand with India in fighting it. There was an unfortunate incident of killing of five innocent labourers. We condemn it,” said Henri Malosse from France.
He said the team got a briefing from the army and police as well as young activists and exchanged “ideas of peace”.
Newton Dunn from the UK described the visit, aimed at getting a first-hand assessment of the situation after the revocation of the state’s special status under Article 370, as an “eye-opener”.
“We belong to a place Europe which is peaceful after years of fighting. And we want to see India becoming the most peaceful country in the world. And for that we need to stand by India in its fight against global terrorism. This visit has been an eye opener and we would definitely advocate what we have seen on ground zero,” he told reporters.
The delegation is the first high-level foreign visit to Kashmir after the August 5 decision of the Centre to revoke the state’s special status and bifurcate it into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. Wednesday is the last day of Jammu and Kashmir as a state.
According to MEP from Poland Ryszard Czarnecki, “The international media coverage seems biased”.
“Once we go back to our countries we will inform them of what we saw,” he said.
Thierry Mariani, also from France, told the media he had been to India many times and this visit was not to interfere in the internal matter of India but to get a first hand knowledge of the ground
situation in Kashmir.
“Militants can destroy a country. I have been to Afghanistan and Syria and I have seen what terrorism has done. We stand with India in its fight against terrorism,” he said.
“By calling us fascists, our image has been tarnished. It’s better that one should know about us properly before tarnishing our image,” he added, referring to some media reports.
The team originally comprised 27 parliamentarians, many from extreme right or right wing parties, but four did not travel to Kashmir and have reportedly returned to their respective countries,
officials said without divulging any reason.
The team arrived here on Tuesday to a complete shutdown, stone pelting and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley.
On Monday, the MPs met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi.
While welcoming the MPs to India, he expressed “the hope that they have a fruitful visit to various parts of the country, including to Jammu and Kashmir”.
Light snowfall in many parts of Kashmir, min temp rises
Many parts of Kashmir received fresh light snowfall on Saturday, leading to an increase in the minimum temperature which brought some relief to the people from the intense cold conditions, the meteorological department said.
A MeT official said the weather would remain generally cloudy in Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh Union territories on Saturday with chances of light rain or snow.
“Light snowfall of two to five inches occurred at many places of Kashmir, hilly areas of Jammu and on the higher reaches of Ladakh,” he said.
The official said the weather would remain generally cloudy in both the Union territories on Saturday.
“A spell of widespread light to moderate snowfall is likely to occur during January 6 to 7 evening,” he said.
The official said the fresh snowfall brought some relief to the residents in the Valley from the intense cold conditions as the night temperature showed improvement.
Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 0.1 degree Celsius Friday night over three degrees up from minus 3.7 degrees Celsius the previous night.
The official said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 6.5 degrees Celsius two degrees up from the previous night.
The night temperature at Pahalgam resort, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius over seven degrees up from minus 10.0 degrees Celsius Thursday night, he said.
The official said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley – in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.6 degree Celsius up over six degrees from the previous night’s minus 7.0 degrees Celsius.
Kokernag town, also in south, recorded a low of minus 2.1 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum temperature at 0.8 degree Celsius, the official said.
The mercury in Leh in Ladakh settled at a low of minus 18.3 degrees Celsius, he said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and minimum temperatures drop considerably.
‘Chillai-Kalan’ began on December 21 and it will end on January 31. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).
Militants hurl grenade at CRPF personnel in Srinagar
Suspected militants hurled a grenade at Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Kawdara locality in Srinagar on Saturday, resulting in damage to several vehicles, police said.
However, there was no immediate report of any casualty or injury, they said.
A grenade was hurled by militants to target the CRPF personnel posted in Kawdara locality of the interior area of the city in the afternoon, police said.
The area was cordoned off immediately after the explosion and further details are awaited.
I-League: Chennai City goes down to Real Kashmir
Real Kashmir downed the reigning champion Chennai City FC 2-1 at the TRC Turf Ground on Thursday. The match was the first big sporting event in the valley since it became a union territory.
Danish Farooq Bhat opened the scoring for Real Kashmir in the 22nd minute before Bazie Armand doubled the lead lie minutes later.
Syed Suhail Pasha’s second half goal halved the deficit for Chennai City but Real Kashmir held on to its lead for its first win of the season. The three points lifted the home side above the visitor into seventh place.
Chennai City hasn’t made a convincing defence of its crown having picked up just five points in as many games.
There were security concerns in the lead up to the game due to the abrogation of Article 370 and the ensuing lockdown in the valley.
The match wasn’t telecast on the official broadcaster DSport. “Due to the ongoing internet connectivity issues in the Kashmir region, today’s match between @ChennaiCityFC & @realkashmirfc will not be telecasted on DSPORT,” DSport posted on its official Twitter page.