This will be the third time that a foreign delegation visits Indian occupied Kashmir and the second by EU MPs to assess the situation on the ground in the region after the Indian government revoked its decades-old quasi-autonomous status last year, bifurcating it into two federally-administered units – Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
A group of 25 European parliamentarians is expected to visit territory of Jammu and Kashmir for two days from 12 February onwards.
The visit, which is yet to be officially announced, comes ahead of voting on a resolution on Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, likely to be held on 31 March after being cancelled in January.
The EU parliamentarians will be informed by Indian Army commanders about the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir and they will also visit the district headquarters where they will be briefed by the local administration, sources said.
On 9-10 January, a group of 15 foreign diplomats (non-EU) was taken by the Indian government to Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir on a guided tour. This delegation included representatives from the US, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Fiji, Maldives, Norway, Philippines, Morocco, Argentina, Peru, Niger, Nigeria, Guyana, and Togo.
During the visit, the diplomats interacted with people, the media, and a group of political leaders. The government maintained that the visit aimed to have envoys witness first-hand the impact of the steps taken by the Indian government to normalise the situation in Indian occupied Kashmir.
The EU representatives were not a part of this delegation, as sources pointed out they wanted unrestricted movement in the region and to meet people of their choice.
The Indian Foreign Ministry then said that the foreign diplomats could have free interactions once the situation improves in Indian occupied Kashmir.
The upcoming visit of EU parliamentarians to Indian occupied Kashmir will be the second after a delegation of 27 EU MPs from countries such as Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom visited the region in October last year.
After the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government revoked the decades-old temporary special status of Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August last year, the region was placed under media and Internet lockdown, with several political leaders and stone-pelters put in detention.
While the Indian government has said most of the detainees have been released, Internet restriction was also lifted completely on 25 January this year.
Indian occupied Kashmir has been a bone of contention between India and Pakistan, as both countries claim the region in full but govern it in part. Islamabad has raised the issue of the Indian parliament revoking Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation to make it a federally administered union territory on international platforms