UK politician says India revoked IOK invitation as he wanted to ‘move freely’


Chris Davies, member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the UK, on Tuesday said that he had received an invitation to travel to Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) but the offer was withdrawn after he insisted on moving in the Valley “unaccompanied by military, police or security forces”.

Davies, who is an MEP from Liberal Democrats party, said he was invited by an organisation called WESTT (Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank) on Oct 7.

The invite was withdrawn three days later, the member of the European parliament said, after he insisted on being able to move around freely.

An Indian government official refused to comment on the issue, insisting that the government wasn’t involved in planning or organising this visit. WESTT, the organisation which had organised the visit, has not responded to a request for comment yet.

Several MEPs including Davies’ party colleague, Bill Newton Dunn are currently in India visiting Jammu and Kashmir.

“I was happy to accept on the condition that during my time in Kashmir I would be free to go wherever I wish and talk to whoever I wish, unaccompanied by military, police or security forces but accompanied by journalists,” he said in a statement.

“I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the Modi government and pretend that all is well. It is very clear that democratic principles are being subverted in Kashmir, and the world needs to start taking notice”.

Davies said he represented many people in his north-west England constituency who have family links in Jammu and Kashmir, who wanted to speak freely to relatives and wanted their voices heard.

Davies has been a vocal critic of India’s decision to revoke Article 370 and was among the 45 members of parliament from the United Kingdom and peers who asked the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in August to prevent what they described as an “unconstitutional attack on Kashmir’s autonomy”.