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Jammu on EU radar

india Updated: Jun 30, 2006 03:03 IST

The separatists are fuming. The European Union delegation led by its new Kashmir envoy Emma Nicholson -- on a two-day visit to the state -- left Srinagar without meeting the separatist organizations. This is the first time in 14 years that the EU team “ignored” the separatists and “connected” with the Kashmiri Hindus in Jammu instead.

Before leaving the Valley, the team, however, met Governor Lt Gen (retd) SK Sinha, chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, deputy chief minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig and several mainstream political leaders.

Striking an emotional chord with with Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu, Nicholson said “the absence of democracy in Pakistan” was at the root of the plight of the Hindu migrants. Addressing the “displaced” Kashmiri Pandits at Muthi, Mishriwala and Purkhoo camps and the “migrants” from across the line of control at Bhour, Nicholson said, “If there had been democracy in Pakistan, problems of displacement and migration would not have arisen at all.” According to her, people’s participation had an “intrinsic” power to check such conflicts.

Nicholson heads a seven-member EU delegation, which is visiting the state to draft a comprehensive report on the rehabilitation of earthquake victims and displacement. Advising the Pandits to pile pressure on Pakistan to revert to democracy, she said, “Eventually, the real answer to all your conflicts lies with you and the democratic process. Foreigners and outsiders have a limited role to play.”

But not all were willing to buy her theory. A group of Pandit youths lashed out at the EU representatives saying “delegation after delegation had taken stock of their condition, but nothing has happened.” Nicholson and her companions, however, left in a huff when a bunch of unruly youth charged at her. Only after members of the community intervened did she get to talk to the Pandit leaders.