NEW DELHI: The EU delegation’s Kashmir visit has put the focus on Madi Sharma, the woman and her NGO, Women’s Eco-Nomic and Social Think-Tank (WESTT), who were instrumental in facilitating the trip. Sharma’s official bio on her Twitter handle describes her as ‘Social Capitalist: International Business Broker, Educational Entrepreneur and Speaker’.
The invitations to the MEPs seem to have been sent out by Sharma, who promised them a ‘meeting with PM Narendra Modi as well as a visit to Kashmir’. Members of the EU delegation met the Prime Minister, national security adviser Ajit Doval, and external affairs minister S Jaishankar in New Delhi and met Commander of 15th Corps in Srinagar. They were introduced to a cross-section of Kashmiris from parts of civil society at a lunch organised by Doval in New Delhi and at another event in Srinagar.
The Madi Group, owned and run by Sharma, is believed to be a network of international private sector, non-profit companies. Sharma is a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, a consultative body of the European Union. She also wrote an article —“Why demolishing Article 370 is both a victory and a challenge for Kashmiri women” — which was published in EP Today, a sponsored publication connected to the European Parliament.
According to her website, WESTT is “a leading women’s think-tank with global dimensions, focussing on the economic, environmental and social development of women. At a political level it also lobbies to raise awareness on key issues but never for commercial gain”. But until now, she had not dabbled in affairs related to Kashmir. However, she accompanied a similar EU delegation to Maldives last year when it was still being run by Abdulla Yameen, where they were very critical of the Yameen government.
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