Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Kumar Jha claimed that he had been denied “political clearance” to travel to Pakistan by the Ministry of External Affairs to participate in the fourth Asma Jahangir Conference.
According to people close to the MP, Jha received an invitation to participate in the conference on September 20 this year. On September 22, Jha applied for clearance with the MEA along with his travel programme. However, he was denied political clearance to travel to Pakistan.
Speaking to The New Indian, Jha, who is also the national spokesperson for the RJD, described the move as “unfortunate and bizarre”.
“It is unfortunate and bizarre because it would have given me an opportunity to showcase how Indian political parties fight to protect human rights and democratic rights inside and outside Parliament,” Jha said.
He said that Jahangir, who died in 2018, was known for fighting for the rights of minorities in Pakistan and was a face of South Asia that stood for human rights.
The RJD leader was scheduled to speak on the “role of political parties in protecting democratic rights” in Lahore on October 23.
Jha said that he had planned to enter Pakistan via the Wagah border on October 20 and planned to return on October 24.
Jahangir was a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist, who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
Jahangir was known for playing a prominent role in the Lawyers’ Movement and served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and as a trustee of the International Crisis Group.
She spent her career defending human and women’s rights, the rights of religious minorities and children’s rights in Pakistan.