Questions are being asked about visiting Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan by the Indian media over his human rights record within Turkey, who in turn has tried to pressurize India by raking up the Kashmir issue. The splinter groups affiliated to the Gulen movement of Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen who has been branded as a terrorist organization by Erdogan and who are fairly active in India, even managing several schools across the country, too have begun criticizing the Erdogan visit.
Erdogan’s Government responds to various criticisms by saying it is because of its courageous stand on issues like Palestinian rights, Syrian refugee crisis, etc. that the world is up in arms against it. It is to be noted that ahead of meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Turkish President Erdogan had controversially suggested a “multi-lateral dialogue” to resolve the Kashmir issue to ensure peace in the region. “We should not allow more casualties to occur (in Kashmir). By having a multi-lateral dialogue, (in which) we can be involved, we can seek ways to settle the issue once and for all,” President Erdogan had told a local Turkish channel ahead of his visit to New Delhi.
“All around the world, there is no better option than keeping the channel of dialogue open. If we contribute towards global peace, we can get a very positive result,” he said.
Responding to this, Ruchi Ghanshyam, Secretary (West) in the External Affairs Ministry had said that India’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is very well known that it is an integral part of the country. “We have always emphasised that India-Turkey relations stand on their own footing and, we believe, the Turkish side reciprocates our sentiment,” Ruchi Ghanashyam had said.
War of words between Gulen supporters based in Delhi and the Erdogan government too has escalated on the side-lines of the visit. While President Erdogan is known to carry his personalised, domestic, anti-Gulen agenda during his foreign trip. It is likely that he would push for his anti-Gulen agenda on his visit to New Delhi, including the Gulen-inspired schools and coaching institutions that are running in various parts of the country, whereas Indian Government need to be cautious in responding to Erdogan’s anti-Gulen request from legal and political point of view but also must take into consideration the relevance of the Gulen movement for integration of Indian Muslims in the country.
Erdogan’s raising of the Kashmir issue and his praise of Nawaz Sharif prior to his visit to India is being seen in the light of the hidden agenda that Erdogan carries and is likely to push forth during his India visit.
Turkish President’s visit to the Jamia Millia campus too has come in the storm. Some students and alumni have opposed Jamia’s decision to present Erdogan with an honorary doctorate degree claiming his involvement in “blatant human rights violation” and acting like “a dictator in Turkey”. Jamia, on the other hand, maintain that Erdogan is visiting Jamia because it is the only institution in the country which provides academic courses in Turkish language and literature and is citing the age-old Indo-Turkish relationship and the likely boost to educational relationship between the two countries that Erdogan’s Jamia visit is likely to give.