Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday said that there is "something very wrong" with the Centre's decision to allow a European Union (EU) delegation to visit Jammu and Kashmir and not permitting Indian MPs to go to the region.
"MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu and Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned and denied entry. There is something very wrong with that," Gandhi tweeted.
Several other senior Congress leaders have also criticised the government over its decision, saying that it was an insult to Indian parliament and democracy.
"When Indian political leaders have been prevented from meeting the people of J-K, what possessed the great chest-beating champion of nationalism to allow European politicians to visit J-K. This is an outright insult to India's own Parliament and our democracy," tweeted former Union minister Jairam Ramesh.
Anand Sharma, who is the Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee of Rajya Sabha on Home Affairs, said the visit will be a "disrespect to the sovereignty of Indian parliament." "The government must answer as to why it violated parliamentary privileges. The committee was not briefed on the matter," he said.
Taking to Twitter, Sharma said: "Government rolling out the red carpet to EU MPs to briefing them and inviting them to visit Jammu and Kashmir is a disrespect to the sovereignty of the Indian Parliament and the violation of the privileges of Indian MPs."
"When leaders of Opposition and Members of Parliament went to Srinagar, they were detained and not allowed to meet any individual or community organisations," he said.
Sharma said the Central government's move to allow the EU parliamentarians to visit J&K is "self-defeating and contradicts or consistent position that J-K is India's internal matter." "Is this the new version of Indian nationalism?" he asked.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also termed the development as an insult to Indian democracy."My request, made during the Lok Sabha debate on Article 370, for an All-Party delegation of MPs to visit to see the situation for themselves, has still not been accepted. But members of the European Parliament can travel as our government's guests? What an Insult to Indian democracy!" he tweeted.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned the Centre's decision to allow the EU parliamentarians to visit J-K to see the ground situation post-abrogation of Article 370 and maintained that it goes against the official stand that Kashmir is an internal matter of India.
"MPs from other countries are allowed to go to Kashmir, why are not our MPs? This is the Modi government's fake nationalism and an insult to the parliament!" he said on Twitter in Hindi.
Speaking to ANI, another Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said that no foreign nation has the right to interfere in matters related to the country including Jammu and Kashmir.
"There are two aspects to the visit of the European Parliament delegation. First, no foreign nation or a member of a foreign nation or a Parliament has a right to interfere in Jammu and Kashmir, which is an internal matter of India," he said.
"Second, the nation, especially the opposition, wants to know the if PMO can host EU member delegation and facilitate their visit to J-K, then why are they not extending the same courtesy to Opposition? Why the Centre objects to opposition leaders visiting J-K," asked Shergill.
Earlier today, a delegation of European Union parliamentarians met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Vice President Venkaiah Naidu. The delegation will be visiting Srinagar on Tuesday.
(with inputs from ANI)
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