Friday Jan 15, 2021
LONDON: UK parliamentarians on Wednesday held a Westminster Hall debate on the ‘political situation in Indian-occupied Kashmir’ proposed by Labour MP Sarah Owen.
Sarah Owen spoke about the restrictions in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK) since August 5, 2019, when certain provisions of Article 370 were revoked and Jammu and Kashmir were accorded the status of a Union Territory.
Talking about the restrictions in IoJK and comparing it with the COVID-19 lockdown, she said: “I am sure we have all caught ourselves at some stage moaning about the lockdown, but for the people of Kashmir it is not something new and, unlike here, in IoK, lockdown is not about safety; it is about control... The lockdown of 2019 shut off entire communities and their communications to the outside world.”
“Around 7 million people have been silenced and cut off. There were families worried about loved ones. Students studying in Luton were unable to get fees paid by parents in Indian-occupied Kashmir, as banking ceased. There are curfews to control people's lives, not a virus—a lockdown enforced by half a million soldiers,” she said.
The UK government was represented by the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Nigel Adams, who addressing the forum, said that the UK government remains engaged with India although reiterating their position that it is not “appropriate” for the UK Government to prescribe a solution or act as a mediator with regards to the unresolved question of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
“The situation in IoK has been of particular concern to many here today, including this Government, especially since the revocation of article 370 of the Indian constitution in 2019 and the introduction of several restrictions on assembly and communications by the Indian Government, which has been raised by many Members."
"We understand that some of these restrictions may have been relaxed, with broadband internet partially restored, along with some access to social media. This is welcome news, but more should be done,” said minister Adams.
Meanwhile, the Indian High Commission in London also reacted to ‘Kashmir’ being debated by UK lawmakers.