LONDON – UK Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn held what he described as “very productive” talks with representatives of the Congress Party here, during which both sides discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir after the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Corbyn has been under pressure from Indian diaspora groups in Britain since the Labour Party passed a resolution against the Indian government’s August 5 decision to revoke Article 370 to withdraw the special status accorded to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, perceived as anti-India with its call for international intervention in the region.
“A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir, Corbyn said in a Twitter statement on Wednesday.
A very productive meeting with UK representatives from the Indian Congress Party where we discussed the human rights situation in Kashmir.
There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long. pic.twitter.com/wn8DXLohJT
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 9, 2019
“There must be a de-escalation and an end to the cycle of violence and fear which has plagued the region for so long,” notes his statement, alongside an image of him joined by Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry with a group of Congress Party UK delegates.
The Labour Party leader, whose stand on Kashmir has not gone down well with the Indian government, also tweeted a picture of the meeting.
The picture included Kamal Dhaliwal, who heads the overseas Congress in the UK.
In New Delhi, the BJP lashed out at the Congress over its “shameful shenanigans” and demanded an explanation following the meeting.
“Appalling! Congress owes it to the people of India to explain what its leaders are telling foreign leaders about India. India will give a befitting reply to Congress for these shameful shenanigans!” the BJP said in a tweet.
The saffron party’s foreign affairs department in-charge Vijay Chauthaiwale said, “This is Congress seeking advice from the UK Labour Leader they might as well go to their masters directly in Pakistan.” PTI KR
The meeting comes despite efforts by the Labour Friends of India (LFIN) group within the party urging the Corbyn and Thornberry for a meeting to consider withdrawing the resolution passed at its conference last month.
“We have concerns about the procedure for the selection of the motion, the quality of the evidence that backed it up, the lack of a balanced debate on the subject, and its ultimate selection and adoption,” read a letter issued last week by LFIN – a group co-chaired by London’s Indian-origin Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal and Darren Jones MP.
Labour Friends of India was among the groups that felt the brunt of the resolution’s aftermath as the Indian mission in London cancelled participation in a proposed annual reception and even the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a harsh rebuke over the uninformed and unfounded motion.
Other Indian-origin Labour Party MPs have also voiced their concerns over the issue, with Leicester-based MP Keith Vaz saying it had caused “unnecessary distress and division within the party and the country” as he wrote to Corbyn to recall the motion.
Fellow Indian-origin veteran Labour MP, Virendra Sharma, also described the matter as a domestic issue , which should not involve the party’s intervention.
He said: Matters surrounding Kashmir and Article 370 are a matter for India internally, it is not for the Labour Party to decide. This is a domestic issue which needs resolving within Indian law and the Constitution.
“Kashmir has been an integral part of India since 1947 and it is a matter for only the population of Kashmir to decide where they live.
The Labour Party resolution tabled at its annual party conference in Brighton and passed on September 26 called on Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is “mediation” and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict.
India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir was an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it.