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India Allows EU Legislators Access to Troubled Kashmir Region

Placards hang at a site of protest rally organized by members of civil society and political parties to convey their solidarity to the people of Jammu & Kashmir in New Delhi, India, Oct. 29, 2019.

European Union legislators arrived Tuesday in Indian Kashmir, the first foreign delegation to visit there since the Indian government revoked the region's autonomy in August and imposed a rigorous crackdown on protesters.

Indian government officials said the lawmakers, representing 11 countries, plan to evaluate the situation in Kashmir after meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

New Delhi surprisingly stripped the Muslim-majority area of its constitutional rights to self-government and land ownership, a move that was followed by a brutal military crackdown by tens of thousands of troops who converged on the already heavily militarized region.

The troops enforced a broad curfew, arresting thousands of people and cutting off nearly all communications.

Government officials have since restored some communications services, encouraged students to return to school and urged businesses to reopen.

Kashmiris have resisted overtures from the government, however, and have voiced anger that the government was attempting to show the delegation the region was returning to normal.

A government and a police official, both of whom requested anonymity, said new demonstrations were underway in about 40 different locations in the Himalayan territory, including the summer capital of Srinagar.

Before the arrival of the delegation, India prohibited U.N. special rapporteurs, U.S. lawmakers, foreign journalists and even some of its own legislators access to the troubled region.

Allowing EU lawmakers rare access to Kashmir has drawn criticism from opposition party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party.

"MPs from Europe are welcome to go on a guided tour of Jammu & (hash)Kashmir while Indian MPs are banned & denied entry," Gandhi tweeted Monday. "There is something very wrong with that."