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UK Opposition Members Rally against Anti-India Kashmir Resolution, Writes to Labour Party Leader Corbyn

Labour Friends of India, the representative diaspora group of the Labour Party, raised concerns over the procedure followed in the passing of the so-called emergency motion.


Updated:October 4, 2019, 10:40 PM IST
UK Opposition Members Rally against Anti-India Kashmir Resolution, Writes to Labour Party Leader Corbyn
File photo Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

London: Members and splinter groups within the UK Opposition Labour Party have rallied together to protest against an anti-India resolution on Kashmir passed recently at the party conference, urging its leader Jeremy Corbyn to seek international observers to enter the region and demand the right of self-determination for people of the Valley.

Labour Friends of India (LFIN), the representative diaspora group of the Labour Party, issued a letter to Corbyn and shadow home secretary Emily Thornberry to raise concerns over the procedure followed in the passing of the so-called emergency motion.

It came in the wake of the Indian government's revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which LFIN, co-chaired by London's Deputy Mayor for Business Rajesh Agrawal and Darren Jones MP, described as an "internal constitutional issue in a third country".

"We have concerns about the procedure for the selection of the motion, the quality of the evidence that backed it up, the lack of a balanced debate on the subject, and its ultimate selection and adoption," reads their letter.

In an apparent reference to the motion being led by British Pakistani MPs, the group called on the party leadership to not allow the "politics of the subcontinent to divide communities here in Britain".

Labour Friends of India was among the groups that bore the brunt of the resolution's aftermath as the Indian mission in London cancelled participation in a proposed annual reception and the Ministry of External Affairs also issued a harsh rebuke over the "uninformed and unfounded" motion.

The group's letter also flags the concern that the controversial resolution was passed at the annual party conference last month when most frontline Opposition MPs had returned to Westminster to attend a resumed House of Commons session, following a Supreme Court ruling that overturned the Parliament's suspension.

Other Indian-origin Labour Party MPs have also voiced their concerns over the issue, with Leicester-based MP Keith Vaz saying it had caused "unnecessary distress and division within the party and the country" as he wrote to Corbyn to recall the motion.

"Issues of sovereignty are a matter for the Indian government; border issues are matters for the governments of India and Pakistan," he said.

Fellow Indian-origin veteran Labour MP Virendra Sharma also described the matter as a "domestic issue", which should not involve the party's intervention.

"Matters surrounding Kashmir and Article 370 are a matter for India internally, it is not for the Labour Party to decide. This is a domestic issue which needs resolving within Indian law and the Constitution," he said.

"Kashmir has been an integral part of India since 1947 and it is a matter for only the population of Kashmir to decide where they live," Sharma said.

The Labour Party resolution tabled at its annual party conference in Brighton and passed on September 26 called on Corbyn to meet the high commissioners of both India and Pakistan to ensure there is "mediation" and restoration of peace and normality to prevent a potential nuclear conflict.

"Accept that Kashmir is a disputed territory and the people of Kashmir should be given the right of self-determination in accordance with UN resolutions. The Labour party to stand with the Kashmiri people fighting against occupation, this is vital as we stand for social justice and ethical foreign policy," it said.

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