Foreigners invited, but not Indians
Our government’s decision to invite an international delegation into Kashmir has backfired spectacularly, said The Hindu. The Indian part of the mostly Muslim region—divided for decades between Pakistani and Indian control—has been on lockdown since August, when New Delhi revoked its autonomy and split it into two territories run directly by federal authorities. Internet and cellphone services were shut down for months, and thousands of Kashmiri political leaders, journalists, and activists are still being held in detention. So the invitation to more than 20 members of the European Parliament should have been a “positive step” to “pave the way for more openness.” Instead, the visit “eroded rather than enhanced” the credibility of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government. The European politicians were all from right-wing, anti-immigrant parties, making it look as if they’d been chosen for their presumed hostility to Muslims. By their own admission, they were given little access to Kashmiri locals. And at least one European lawmaker—Nicolaus Fest of the Alternative for Germany party—said it was unfair of New Delhi to bar Indian opposition politicians from visiting Kashmir to assess the situation on the ground. Rather than staging “heavily scripted photo opportunities,” Modi should work on improving the “grim” conditions for Kashmiris.