Chair of British Parliamentary Group on Kashmir barred from entering India

28th Feb 2020

Elham Asaad Buaras

Indian officials have denied entry to a British MP who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Kashmir, after she landed in New Delhi on February 17.
Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Debbie Abrahams, was visiting relatives when she was barred from entry by Indian customs despite having a valid visa to enter the country.

Abrahams and her aide Harpreet Upal were forced to return to Dubai shortly after arriving at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. Abrahams said an official rudely and aggressively informed her she was barred from entry.

Abrahams has been an MP since 2011 then called a relative, who contacted the British High Commission seeking support. “Just to be clear, I have Indian relatives who I was meant to be visiting with and have Indian members of staff accompanying me,” Abrahams later tweeted. “The reason I got into politics is advance social justice and human rights for all. I will continue to challenge my own government and others on these issues.”

Abrahams is an outspoken critic of the Indian Government’s move last August, stripping Kashmir in the Himalayan region of its semi-autonomous status and demoting it from a state to a federal territory.

Shortly after the changes to Kashmir’s status were passed by India’s Parliament, Abrahams wrote a letter to India’s High Commissioner to the UK, saying the action ‘betrays the trust of the people’ of Kashmir. Access to the region remains tight, with no foreign journalists allowed. India said it has since eased those restrictions and restored limited internet connectivity last month, ending one of the world’s longest such shutdowns in a democracy.

Kashmir is heralding the restoration of limited, slow-speed internet as a step towards normality, but for the region’s 7 million people, the reality is far different. They are only allowed to access Government-approved websites. More than two dozen diplomats visited Indian-administered Kashmir earlier this month, as India sought to reassure foreign allies following several months of unrest.

The group included European diplomats, some of whom declined a previous invitation from New Delhi to visit the region.And a further fifteen foreign envoys visited Kashmir last month, a trip, the visiting observers branded as tightly stage-managed with no independent interactions.

A planned vote in the EU Parliament next month could rebuke India for its actions in Kashmir as well as its newly introduced Citizenship Amendment Act.The draft resolution had been brought by six groups representing 626 of 751 members of the European Parliament. India’s foreign ministry did not comment on Abrahams deportation from the country.

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