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Pulwama attack: UK foreign secretary receives flak over ‘India-administered Kashmir’ tweet


The Pulwama attack drew condemnation from across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom, but a reference by foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘India-administered Kashmir’ in his reaction raised hackles among many.

Leading criticism of the use of the phrase, senior Labour MP Virendra Sharma wrote to Hunt, asking him to withdraw it, informing him that the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been an integral part of India since its accession in 1947.

Hunt tweeted after the attack: “Shocked by today’s senseless and brutal act of terror in India-administered Kashmir. I offer my sincere condolences to the victims’ families. We stand with India”.

The Foreign Office has long used ‘India-administered Kashmir’ to refer to Jammu and Kashmir, but the phrase has riled many in Indian circles. Its use by Hunt in the context of the Pulwama attack prompted criticism by twitterati based in the UK, India and elsewhere.

Thanking Hunt for standing with India, Sharma wrote to him: “In your tweet, you use the phrase ‘India-administered Kashmir’, which is deeply offensive to many in India, and this country, as it suggests that India is a colonising nation, whereas the state chose to join India in 1947 due to the constitutional commitment to secularism and plurality”.

Sharma, MP from Ealing Southall, is the chair of the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group, a forum to discuss and raise matters related to India in the British parliament.

Foreign Office minister for Asia Tariq Ahmad met Indian high commissioner Ruchi Ghanshyam and conveyed condolences, adding: “India is a key partner for the UK across trade, security and culture”.

Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of parliament, said: “I’m deeply saddened by the terrorist attack in Kashmir. Thoughts are with the Indian security personnel killed and injured by this appalling crime”.

Conservative MP Bob Blackman sai
d: “We stand with India. Time to isolate and proscribe the terrorists responsible for this atrocity”, while Labour MP Barry Gardiner added: “Solidarity with the people of India from all of us in the Labour Party. We utterly reject this disgusting terrorist violence”.