08:00PM, Thursday 12 March 2020
Slough Borough Council has been accused of ‘attempting to interfere’ in the Kashmir conflict by a community group in the town.
Councillors agreed last month to write to the Indian High Commissioner urging India to end its ‘oppressive controls’ over people living in the disputed region on its border with Pakistan.
In a motion passed at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, February 20, councillors agreed to write to Slough MP Tan Dhesi calling on him to raise awareness of the situation at Government level.
The Slough Indian Solidarity Group (SISG), a community group seeking to bring solidarity between different Indian heritage groups in the town, has now written to council leader Cllr James Swindlehurst calling for an apology over the decision.
A spokesman said: “In a letter to the leader of the council, SISG accused the councillors of breaching the council’s code of conduct through improper use of their position, misuse of council facilities or resources, and disreputable conduct by attempting to interfere in the legitimate affairs of an independent country.”
The council needed to show support to all communities living in Slough, the community group added, and it accused the local authority of failing to condemn attacks on Sikh, Hindu and Christian places of worship in Pakistan.
Cllr Swindlehurst respond-ed: “Slough has a very large Kashmiri community and ongoing tensions and potential developments in the Province are a concern for many of our residents.
“Thus it was entirely appropriate that the council heard this issue as elected representatives of this community – and of all communities in Slough.”
The motion was passed by a democratic vote and met the procedural rules set out in the council constitution, he said.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has been the subject of a long-running conflict between India and Pakistan, with both nations claiming the border region belongs to them.
Both countries now control different parts of the territory but people living in the Indian-administered region have been subject to curfews and communication restrictions since August.
Tan Dhesi said: “I appreciate the genuine concerns of Slough Borough Council and the local community regard-ing Kashmir, particularly as many are anxious about their families’ safety and well-being. I agree human rights must be protected and a peaceful resolution is urgently needed.
“Following the letter from Slough Borough Council on this issue, I have written to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to relay these concerns.”
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