British MP leading Kashmir group denied entry into India

Feb 18 2020

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DEBBIE Abrahams
DEBBIE Abrahams

NEW DELHI: In separate actions, India on Monday expressed its frustration over growing international voice in support of people of occupied Kashmir by denying a British legislator entry and summoning Turkish diplomat to lodge protest.

Debbie Abrahams, a Labour Party Member of Parliament, was unable to clear customs when the Indian visa she presented was rejected after she landed at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, according to an accompanying aide.

Abrahams, who chairs a parliamentary group focused on the disputed region of Kashmir, and Harpreet Upal, had arrived at the airport on an Emirates flight from Dubai at 9am.

Abrahams said immigration officials did not cite any reason for denying her entry, but continued to shout that she didn’t have a visa.

The visa she showed at customs, a copy of which was shared with the AP, permits her to attend technical/business meetings, and expires in October 2020.

A government official who requested anonymity because it was an immigration matter said the lawmaker wasn’t allowed to enter India because her visa wasn’t valid, information the official said she had already received in another communication sent to her.

Indian foreign ministry summons Turkish envoy for Erdogan’s remarks on Kashmir

Abrahams , 59, has been a member of parliament since 2011 and was on a two-day personal trip to India, to be followed by a three-day trip to AJK.

In a phone interview, she said that she’d been trying to organise a visit to India-held Kashmir with the India High Commission in London since October, but had been unsuccessful. She had, however, received permission to visit AJK, and was planning to fly to Islamabad later this week.

“It was implied to me that it was linked to that,” Abrahams said, referring to a conversation with officials at the UK High Commission in New Delhi.

“They were also aware of the trip to Pakistan. It looks as though politics is playing a part in this action,” she said.

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.

Envoy summoned

Besides, India summoned the Turkish ambassador to lodge a diplomatic protest over President Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks on the disputed region of Kashmir and warned it would have a bearing on bilateral ties.

During a visit to Pakistan last week, Erdogan said the situation in India-held Kash­mir was worsening because of sweeping changes New Delhi introduced in the Muslim-majority territory and that Turkey stood in solidarity with the people of Kashmir.

India told Turkish envoy Sakir Ozkan Torunlar that Erdogan’s comments lacked any understanding of the history of the Kashmir dispute, the Indian foreign ministry said.

“This recent episode is but one more example of a pattern of Turkey interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. India finds that completely unacceptable,” foreign ministry spok­esman Raveesh Kumar said.

He said India had served a strong demarche, or formal diplomatic note.

“These developments have strong implications for our bilateral relations,” the foreign ministry spokesman said, referring to Erdogan’s comments.

Erdogan told Pakistan’s parliament that the Kashmir problem cannot be solved through pressure but on the basis of justice and fairness.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2020