The controversy aroused right after the EU delegation wrapped up its two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. The visit was in question since it came in the news that the EU delegation is planning such visit to the state.
The opposition raised the point to the government that why it was not allowed to visit the state and examine the condition of the people there if a foreign delegation is allowed to do so.
Now another controversy has aroused on the visit related to Madi Sharma, a Brussels-based Indian origin lady who arranged the trip of the delegation. Madi Sharma runs an NGO called Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT) which works for women empowerment.
The 23 Members of European Parliament (MEPs) visited Jammu and Kashmir on October 29 to examine the situation of the state post abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution.
Ironically, the delegation was not invited by the Ministry of External Affairs, neither is was an official visit of the delegation. In fact, the invitation was sent by Madi Sharma on behalf of the Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank.
According to the website of Madi Group, “Madi Sharma is the Entrepreneur who founded, inspires and motivates the Madi Group, a group of International private sector & social enterprises, not for profit companies and NGOs (sic).”
In her bio on Twitter, Sharma describes herself as a ‘Social Capitalist: International Business Broker, Education Entrepreneur; Speaker’.
In the invitation that Sharma sent to the EU delegation, she promised them a prestigious VIP meeting with the Indian Prime Minister and a visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
“I am organising a prestigious VIP meeting with the Prime Minister of India, His Excellency Narendra Modi and it is my privilege to offer this invitation to you… As you will be aware Prime Minister Modi had a landslide victory in the recent elections in India and is planning to continue on his path of growth and development for India the country and its people. In that respect, he would like to meet influential decision makers from the European Union,” read the invitation.
The screenshot of the invitation letter was shared by Chris Davies, an MEP from UK’s Liberal Democrats party with different media organisations through email.
The sponsoring of EU delegation’s visit to Kashmir has also trigerred controversy. Sharma said that the trip was sponsored by a Delhi-based international Institute of Non-Aligned Studies (IINS).
As per its website, IINS is an international organisation, founded on Septemebr 19, 1980, to project and highlight the convictions of the peoples of the Non-aligned World.
The organisation is said to be founded by late Govind Narain Srivastava, a scholar and a journalist by profession. The office is located in Delhi’s Safdarjung Enclave area.
Madi Sharma had also penned down an article on the government’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in EP Today. EP Today is a monthly news magazine about the European Parliament.
According to the Guardian report, EPToday is a ‘lobbying platform’ presented as a serious news outlet, whose target audience are EU decision-makers.
Article 370 providing special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated on August 5, triggering controversy on national as well as international platform. Many countries sided itself from making any comment on the Indian government’s move citing it to be the India’s internal matter. This is the first visit of any international delegation in the state after the revoke of special status granted to the state.