Violence and oppression in Kashmir can no longer be seen as a private matter between India and Pakistan.

It must be treated seriously as an urgent and global human rights issue and resolution sought by the whole international community.

That was the message from a high-powered International Conference on Kashmir organised in the European Parliament by Anthea McIntyre MEP.

Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands and co-chair of Friends of Kashmir group in the parliament, set the agenda for delegates by outlining the findings of her visit last week to Azad Jammu and Kashmir with a delegation of British Parliamentarians.

She said: "This is one of the longest-running conflicts in the world and the ordinary citizens of Kashmir are the forgotten victims.

"We heard heartbreaking accounts from people tortured and shot by the Indian authorities, who have lost loved ones and been divided from their families.

"We spoke to a woman who suffered beatings at the border in front of her daughter, then was forced to separate from her husband who is gravely ill in Indian Occupied Kashmir."

She said the delegates heard repeated accounts of civilians, including infants, being blasted with shotguns and insisted: "Whatever justification may be claimed - and in these cases there really is none - there can never be any excuse for killing and maiming and blinding small children."

Speakers included Pakistan's Ambassador to the EU Naghmana A. Hashmi; Syed Nazir Ahmed Gilani, President of the Jammu Kashmir Human Rights Council in the United Nations; Zaffar Ahmad Qureshi, Chairman of Kashmir Campaign Global; Sheikh Tajammul Ulislam, Director of Kashmir Media Services; Abdul Hameed Lone, Secretary of the Hurriyat Conference of Azad Kashmir; and Pakistan Senators Faisal Javed and Sardar Tareen.

Raja Najabat Hussain, the Bradford-based chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Self Determination Movement International, thanked Miss McIntyre for hosting the conference. He said his group stood ready to help sister organisations across Europe and the world to urge the European Union and national governments to take action.

As the conference closed, Miss McIntyre said: "Today has sent a clear message that the world needs to wake up.

"I am a  huge respecter of India, a great nation and a wonderful democracy. Kashmir is such a stain on the integrity of India. I cannot understand why that country, with its democratically elected politicians, allows a situation like Kashmir to continue."