Labour Party’s Kashmir resolution language could be ‘misinterpreted’ as hostile to India: Corbyn

LONDON: Britain’s opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that some of the language in a controversial Kashmir resolution passed by his party have the scope of being “misinterpreted as hostile to India” even as he stood by the emergency motion against the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

The UK Opposition Leader was responding to a letter by the Labour Friends of India (LFIN) group, among a number of party members to raise concerns over the resolution passed at the Labour Party annual conference last month that called for international intervention in Kashmir in the wake of the Indian government’s revocation of Article 370.

The emergency motion on Kashmir came through as part of the democratic process of the Labour Party Conference. However, there is a recognition that some of the language used within it could be misinterpreted as hostile to India and the Indian diaspora, Corbyn said in his reply to LFIN on Thursday.

Labour understands the concerns the Indian community in Britain has about the situation in Kashmir and takes these concerns very seriously, said Corbyn, who has been under pressure from Indian diaspora groups in Britain since the Labour Party passed the resolution.

The Labour leader goes on to stress that the party remains committed to ensuring that the rights of all citizens of Kashmir are “respected and upheld”.

This remains our priority and I agree that we should not allow the politics of the sub-continent to divide communities in Britain, he notes, adding that he is keen to build on the historically good relationship with India and the Indian diaspora.

Corbyn sparked a war of words in India between the BJP and the Congress on Thursday after he claimed that human rights situation in Kashmir was discussed during a meeting with the Indian Overseas Congress (IOC) UK representatives earlier this week.

The BJP lashed out at the Congress over its “shameful shenanigans” and demanded an explanation following which the latter hit out at the ruling party in a tweet accusing it of spreading lies instead of addressing questions on the economic slowdown in the country.

Congress’ senior spokesperson Anand Sharma, who is the Chairman of the party’s Foreign Affairs department, later told reporters it “disowned” any claim made at the meeting in its entirety.

The party said the delegation which met or for that matter any committee or chapter of the Indian Overseas Congress has neither a mandate nor any authorisation to speak on behalf of the Congress party on any matter which pertains to policy or India’s domestic issues.

India has categorically told the international community that its move on Kashmir was an internal matter. India maintains Kashmir is a bilateral issue and no third party has any role in it. LFIN, co-chaired by London’s Deputy Mayor for business Rajesh Agrawal and Darren Jones MP, responded to Corbyn with plans to set up a meeting with the party leader as offered in the letter.

Glad to see that the Labour Party recognise that the language in the Kashmir motion was unhelpful, it said. LFIN was among the groups that felt the brunt of the resolution’s aftermath as the Indian mission in London cancelled participation in a proposed annual reception and even the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a harsh rebuke over the uninformed and unfounded motion.

Other Indian-origin Labour Party MPs have also voiced their concerns over the issue. In its letter to the party leader last week, the LFIN had raised 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.

The latest development comes as the IOC UK chapter issued its own Twitter reaction to try and distance itself from Corbyn’s message about their meeting.

The statement titled as IOC UK and Jeremy Corbyn meeting facts, notes: We made it clear referring to Rahul Gandhi’s previous statement: J&K is integral part of India; we don’t accept any external involvement in India’s internal matter. Opposed and condemned the recent Labour Party resolution on Kashmir.

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. PTI

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