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Visit cancelled as I put riders: British MEP

Chris Davies, a member of the European parliament (MEP) from the UK, had his invitation to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visit Jammu and Kashmir allegedly withdrawn after he insisted on moving freely during the trip, speaking to anyone he wanted and not being accompanied by security.

Davies, MEP from north-west England, said on Tuesday that he received the invitation on October 7, responded to it the next day, but was told on October 10 that it had been withdrawn without any reason being mentioned.

Davies said: “I was happy to accept [the invitation] 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.”

“I am not prepared to take part in a PR stunt for the [Narendra] 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 was invited by an organisation called WESTT (Women’s Economic and Social Think Tank) to meet Prime Minister Modi on October 28, visit Jammu and Kashmir on October 29, and address a press conference on October 30.

A chain of e-mail communications accessed by HT showed that Madi Sharma, an entrepreneur and chief of WESTT, approached Davies on October 7 to join a delegation for a three-day visit to the Valley. The email mentioned that Davies’ participation would be as a guest and not in his official capacity as MEP. Davies replied, insisting on a written guarantee that he would be allowed to move freely, unaccompanied by security forces. Sharma said some security would be necessary but that she was sure it “will not hinder your (Davies’) work”.

She also asked for a meeting, which was fixed for October 10 by the MEP’s office. But on October 10 in an email addressed to Davies and Irina Von Wiese, another MEP from the Liberal Democrats party, Sharma cancelled the meeting. “I apologise that I cannot take any more MEPS at this stage,” she said, adding that she would arrange a meeting in the future after her return from India. Sharma was unavailable for comment over phone.

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.

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