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European Parliament Delegation Visits Disputed Kashmir

An Indian policeman puts out a bonfire at a road block in Srinagar on October 29.
An Indian policeman puts out a bonfire at a road block in Srinagar on October 29.

A group of European Parliament members arrived in Kashmir on October 29 -- the first foreign delegation to visit the disputed Himalayan region since India canceled its semiautonomous status and imposed severe restrictions in early August.

The delegation is visiting Srinagar, the main city in India-controlled Kashmir, and meeting with government and military officials.

Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-led India have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two of which were over control of Kashmir, the divided region claimed by both countries.

A decision by New Delhi in August to revoke the special constitutional status of India-controlled Kashmir and impose a security lockdown sparked new tensions between the South Asian rivals.

New Delhi has denied UN special rapporteurs, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign journalists access to the region.

The EU delegation to India said the visit is "unofficial" and is being carried out by some members "in their personal capacity."

A statement issued by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office said the visit should give the delegation "a clear view of the development and governance priorities of the region."

The visit comes after gunmen killed a fourth truck driver in the last three weeks in the region on October 28.

Gunmen have targeted apple traders and truck drivers transporting apples from the region, whose apple industry is vital to its economy.

Based on reporting by AP and The Hindu