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UK MPs, peers continue to clash over J&K decision

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The divisions across Britain's political corridors over the Indian government's abrogation of Article 370 continues to play out in social media clashes between MPs and peers on either side of the debate even a week later.

The decision, which withdraws the special status of Jammu and Kashmir with plans to bifurcate the state into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, had triggered tit-for-tat letters to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

While a group of Muslim MPs, mostly of Pakistani-origin, from the Opposition Labour Party branded the move as an "orchestrated coup", a Conservative Party reaction came from Bob Blackman MP when he hand-delivered his own strongly-worded letter in India's support at Downing Street, stressing that constitutional changes were an internal matter for India.

"India and Pakistan are both democracies and sovereign countries, thoroughly capable of looking after their interests. We in Britain want good relations with both, Lord Swraj Paul said in a Twitter message, in response to the tit-for-tat letter clash.

The NRI industrialist and veteran peer in the House of Lords welcomed the UK government stand on the matter so far, which has been limited to calling for calm amid a reference to the situation in Kashmir as "serious" during a telephone call between Johnson and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last week.

"I am delighted with Prime Minister Boris Johnson's very reasonable stand on this issue. It will help build good relations with both the countries (India and Pakistan)," noted Paul.

His views found echoes with another Indian-origin entrepreneur, Dr Rami Ranger, the co-chair of the Conservative Friends of India (CFIN) diaspora group within Britain's ruling party as he took on members of the Labour Party for bringing the sub-continent's political divides to the UK.

"You mustn't bring of the subcontinent into the UK to gain votes and at the same time, damage social cohesion in Britain," he said, responding to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's tweet over the weekend, expressing concern over the situation in Kashmir.

It attracted the support of at least one Indian-origin MP from within the Labour Party, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi the first turbaned Sikh MP in the House of Commons, who expressed solidarity with the Kashmiri people.

Fellow Indian-origin Labour MP and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Indo-British Relations, Virendra Sharma, struck more of a note of caution in his statement: "All parties should enter into a constructive dialogue and seek to do everything possible to reduce tensions and find a peaceful solution."

"It is our duty to ensure that conflicts around the world do not bring division to the UK, that our society is not divided but instead brought together."

The Kashmir issue has always divided politicians in the UK, which has a substantial Kashmiri population. As the UK Parliament in currently in recess, MPs reacted to the latest developments mostly by taking to social media or issuing letters addressed to either Prime Minister Boris Johnson or UK foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

The official Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) stance remains that the UK is following the developments closely, with Raab saying the government has "expressed concerns around the situation and called for calm when asked about the issue last week.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, August 13 2019. 20:20 IST