London: Amid a social media clash between British parliamentarians a week after India’s decision to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir, a Conservative lawmaker has stressed that the constitutional changes were an “internal matter” for India.
In a strongly worded letter addressed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in support of India, Bob Blackman said, “There is a widely respected convention that we do not interfere in the domestic affairs of a third country, especially a long-standing friend and ally like India.” The spat among the parliamentarians started after the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn on Sunday night took to Twitter to address the “disturbing” situation in the region and called for the implementation of the UN resolutions in the wake of the scrapping of Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir.
The situation in Kashmir is deeply disturbing. Human rights abuses taking place are unacceptable. The rights of the Kashmiri people must be respected and UN resolutions implemented.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 11, 2019
Corbyn’s tweet followed a letter from a British Labour MP who urged Johnson to take steps against the so-called “illegal” actions undertaken by New Delhi.
In response to the provocative letter by the Labour MP, Blackman stated, “Whilst not wishing to break this convention, it appears very strange that Labour MPs are criticising the Indian Government for equalising the rights of all its citizens.” “Surely such a step should be welcomed in any democracy,” the lawmaker said.
Blackman, in his letter, also noted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s democratically elected government is “perfectly entitled to implement its own election manifesto which explicitly proposed these constitutional changes to Articles 370 and 35A”.
“Labour MPs should not be so surprised if an elected government keeps its promises. In making these changes it wishes to promote prosperity in the region by improving security and attracting inward investment in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
“It has been the long-held position of successive UK governments that any matter concerning Kashmir is a strictly bilateral issue between India and Pakistan,” the letter read.
Blackman also said that India has a long-established tradition of respecting different faiths and religions.
Attacking the Labour lawmaker over his inflammatory comments against India following the recent developments in the region, Blackman stressed, “The comments made about promoting ‘exclusive Hindu settlements’ are highly provocative since they totally ignore the tragic history of the region, which has seen thousands of Kashmiri Pandits forced to flee their homeland following persecution and threats by radical Islamists and militants and ordered to leave Kashmir, convert to Islam or be killed.” “The changes therefore redress, rather than promote, flagrant ethnic cleansing,” he said.
“It is becoming clear that the Labour Party has become an anti-Indian, anti-Hindu party which is not interested in building a friendly relationship with the world’s largest democracy but instead wants to import the politics of the subcontinent to the UK for its own narrow and communal interests,” the letter added.
India had last week taken the historic decision to revoke the provisions of Article 370 and passed a Bill bifurcating Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Rattled by New Delhi’s move, Pakistan had initiated a series of decisions, including downgrading bilateral relations with India, suspending bilateral trade, halting Samjhauta and Thar Express trains from its side and banning Indian movies in Pakistani cinemas.