Why does Narendra Modi often travel abroad

Modi opens Kashmir for MPs from AfD and Co

The visit of the first international delegation since the beginning of the latest unrest to Kashmir in early August continues to cause excitement. Because among the 23 EU parliamentarians who were allowed to visit the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir last week, there were noticeably many representatives from right-wing populist parties.

On August 5th, India's government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP surprisingly revoked the autonomy rights there. Since then, the opposition and human rights activists from home and abroad have criticized the continuing lockdown in the Himalayas. Over a thousand local politicians remain under house arrest or in custody. EU countries have also repeatedly criticized the approach. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel only described the situation in Kashmir as "unsustainable" and "not good" during her visit to Delhi this weekend.

The main point of criticism is always that journalists, opposition politicians or other delegations are not allowed to travel to Kashmir. It was therefore all the more surprising that it was this delegation that was chosen by the foreign visitors. The group included three MPs from the German AfD, six from Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National, four from the Polish PiS and four from Nigel Farage's Brexit Party.

The conflict in Kashmir is sparked, among other things, by the fact that Muslims in India feel discriminated against. Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state. For critics, the visit of European politicians who advocate anti-Muslim politics is a particular affront.

British Liberal Democrat Chris Davies was briefly unloaded after insisting on speaking to locals without a police escort. "I'm not ready to take part in a public relations stunt for the Modi government and pretend everything is fine," he said. The Indian opposition politician Rahul Gandhi also criticized the fact that MEPs are led through Kashmir while Indian MPs are not allowed to enter.

Luxury hotel or house arrest

Ironically, the MEPs were staying in a luxury hotel in Srinagar, which is right next to the house where the former chief minister of the state Omar Abdullah is imprisoned, reports the BBC. While the delegation was talking to selected student groups and trade representatives under strict security precautions, attacks by militant forces continued.

Five migrant workers died in the attack. And protests took place in more than 40 locations - also triggered by the visit from Europe. Residents were angry with Reuters that the government wanted to show normalcy while phones and internet were still not functioning normally. (Anna Sawerthal, November 3rd, 2019)