- 23 European Union MPs met top officers, took boat ride on Dal Lake
- They interacted with some newly-elected panchayat members, councillors
- Opposition questioned how foreign MPs were allowed in J&K and not them
Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:
"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," said Newton Dunn, a lawmaker from the UK.
"We are Indian citizens and we want to be Indian like all other Indian citizens... we want to have development like other parts of country, locals told us," another lawmaker said.
The MPs travelled in bullet-proof vehicles with a security convoy as they were taken from the airport in Srinagar to a luxury hotel in the city on Tuesday. The lawmakers are mainly from far-right parties; only three of the 27 MPs belong to the Left or liberal parties. All of them are visiting India in their private capacity.
After a traditional Kashmiri welcome, the leaders were briefed by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and police chief Dilbag Singh. The team also interacted with some newly-elected panchayat members and councillors. The group drove past four detention facilities where dozens of politicians including three former Chief Ministers have been detained.
Many alleged that no prominent civil society group, trade body or mainstream Kashmiri political party could meet the EU lawmakers. Two MPs of National Conference said they were blocked from meeting the group. "We are not here to interfere in Indian politics," one of the leaders said today during the press conference.
The visit ended with a trip to Dal Lake, Srinagar's most prominent tourist draw, where the MPs were seen taking a boat ride. PTI reported that the boating took place near the Centaur Hotel, where more than 30 politicians and activists have been under detention since August 5.
Four of the 27 lawmakers dropped out of the visit and flew back to their countries.MP Chris Davies claimed he was dropped from the trip because he asked for unfettered access to people and places in Kashmir for a fair assessment. The Liberal Democrat MP said: "I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well. It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice."
Ryszard Czarnecki, an MP from Poland, said,"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, a Euro MP for France's far-right National Rally, said, "By calling us fascists, our image has been tarnished. It's better that one should know about us properly before tarnishing our image."
The European Union parliamentarians visited Jammu and Kashmir on a day when five labourers from West Bengal were killed by terrorists in Kulgam district. Another labourer was injured in the attack. Henri Malosse from France condemned the attack, calling it "unfortunate". "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," he said.
Opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi have slammed the visit. "I think if you let in European Union parliamentarians, you should also let in opposition politicians from India. So there is some kind of disbalance, the government should somehow address it," Nicolaus Fest, one of the MPs was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.