A group of European Parliament members visiting Jammu and Kashmir is the "biggest diplomatic blunder in India's history", facilitated by an "international business broker," the Congress said today.
Over the last three days, India had witnessed an immature, ill-advised and ill-conceived PR exercise of the BJP government organized by an "international business broker", said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala.
"Modi Government has committed a grave sacrilege by introducing a third party to assess the ground situation in Kashmir and that also through an unknown think tank. By doing so, the government has caused an affront to India's sovereign right over Jammu and Kashmir," said Mr Surjewala.
He said 27 members of the European Parliament were brought to India by a "nondescript think-tank with questionable credentials to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, visit Kashmir and hold a press briefing".
Only 23 actually went; four members returned to their countries from Delhi.
The BJP has accused the opposition of needlessly whipping up trouble. "The controversy over the government's decision to allow a European Union parliamentary delegation to visit Kashmir is misplaced. The opposition should have viewed it as a sign that the situation in the Valley is coming under relative control," said Amit Malviya, the BJP's IT cell head.
Mr Surjewala questioned why the government was "internationalising the Kashmir issue" as it is an internal part of India.
"India's time tested policy over the last 72 years is that Kashmir is our internal issue and we will accept no interference or third party mediation of any nature from any government or group of people or organisation or any individual. The Modi government has committed the gravest sin of reversing this policy over the last three days," he said.
The Congress leader accused the government of "insulting" parliament and "our democratic spirit".
"When our own Members of Parliament and Leaders of Opposition visit Kashmir, they are detained and deported from the airport by the present BJP government. On the other hand, the BJP government is rolling out the red carpet for a private visit by EU MPs facilitated by an unknown 'International Business Broker'," said Mr Surjewala.
The Congress questioned the government on Madi Sharma, who facilitated the EU delegation's trip to Kashmir. She describes herself on Twitter as a Social Capitalist, International Business Broker and Education Entrepreneur. She also says she is the CEO and founder of WESTT or Women's Economic and Social Think Tank.
"Modi Government has made a spectacle of India's diplomacy by outsourcing diplomacy to an 'International Business Broker'. Will the Prime Minister tell us who is Madi Sharma? What is BJP's connection to 'Women's Economic and Social Think Tank' as also to 'International Institute for Non-aligned Studies'? Why and in what capacity is Madi Sharma fixing an appointment with the Prime Minister for a delegation of EU MPs on a personal visit and why is Government of India facilitating it? Where is the money to finance the entire visit coming from? Why has MEA (foreign ministry) been completely sidelined," the Congress leader questioned.
According to Madi Sharma's emails to a European MP, the visit was sponsored by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, a think tank.
Rubbishing criticism, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi had said on Tuesday: "Today is a historic day for India. Today the country is moving towards one constitution and one symbol. The opposition should welcome this. We cannot help them with their anxiety issues."