Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Amjad Mahmood Bashir (L) and Ambassador of India to the EU Manjeev Singh Puri (Photo: Creative Commons)
A British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) says he was barred from an official India visit over his support for the people of Indian occupied Kashmir.
Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber, Amjad Mahmood Bashir, was due to join a delegation of six members of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee which flew out to India on February 21 but was not handed a visa allowing him to enter the country.
Bashir, who is of Pakistani decent, believes that he has been denied permission to enter India because he is a vocal supporter of self-determination for the Indian occupied people of Jammu and Kashmir and for condemning India for committing mass human rights violations against the people of Kashmir.
In a statement to The Muslim News Bashir said: “My visa application was submitted promptly like other MEPs on the delegation. Yet, I alone find myself still without the necessary piece of paper. Our political group has taken the matter up with the Parliament’s authorities. The Parliament’s President, Antonio Tajani, is looking into it.”
Bashir believes that Indian authorities may not have liked his challenge to India’s Ambassador to the EU during a debate in Brussels over human rights abuses last month.
“There has not been a word of official explanation from the Indian authorities, but through unofficial channels, I have been told it is because of my stance on Kashmir, even though I was at pains to be courteous and constructive when I addressed the Ambassador,” said Bashir.
Bashir told Manjeev Singh Puri that: “If India is to fulfil her destiny as a world-leading economy and a true beacon of democracy and rule of law, she cannot continue to subjugate Jammu and Kashmir.”
Bashir said he will not be deterred from speaking up for Kashmiris. “If I have been banned because of sincerely-held beliefs than it is regrettable and counter-productive. Surely the way to solve the long-running problem of Jammu and Kashmir is to have open dialogue and allow a diversity of views – not to ban dissenters from entering the country.”