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More controversy over Queen's visit as Labour Party backs plebiscite in Kashmir

Queen Elizabeth's visit to India is embroiled in another controversy -- over the Labour Party's support for a plebiscite in Kashmir. The queen, who is on a five-day visit of Pakistan, is set to visit India, starting October 12.

The Congress has criticised the Labour Party taking this stand at a time the queen was visiting India, claiming the party was imperialistic.

"They should realise that the days of the empire are over and that India now is a major player in the international arena," Congress spokesperson V N Gadgil said.

The Communist Party of India too objected to the Labour Party's stand, claiming it had no right to interfere in Indian affairs. About the queen's trip, CPI national secretary D Raja asked, "Is it a pleasure trip or a pilgrimage?"

The protests were in reaction to Labour minister Derek Fatchett's expression of support to a plebiscite in Kashmir during a meeting in Brighton.

The government too is likely to express its disapproval on the matter to British foreign secretary Robin Cook who will accompany the queen. Cook is also slated to meet Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral.

Meanwhile, British High Commissioner Sir David Gore-Booth defended his country's position, claiming that the Labour Party was right in seeking a resolution to the Kashmir problem

"Between India and Pakistan, there is the debilitating problem of Kashmir. The issue needs to be settled. There is no point in tilting at windmills," he said, answering a question during his briefing on the queen's visit to India. He clarified that at no time had the Government of India sought that the queen drop her visit to Jallianwala Bagh.

The high commissioner said there was no question of the queen apologising for the massacre there, as demanded by some people in India. However, on October 14 she will place a wreath at the site of the 1919 massacre.

The queen's itinerary

'Why just Jallianwala, if the queen apologises it should be for all crimes perpetrated under the Union Jack?'

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