SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI :
Army will brief the diplomats on the security situation in Kashmir and give a detailed presentation on Pakistan’s involvement in fomenting and sponsoring terrorism in the Valley
A SECOND batch of 25 foreign envoys, including those from Germany, Canada, France and Afghanistan, reached Kashmir on Wednesday to have a first-hand assessment of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, a region which faced months of restrictions after its Special Status was stripped of on August 5. The envoys arrived at the Srinagar airport around 11 am but could not go ahead with their scheduled visit to Baramulla in north Kashmir due to inclement weather, officials said.
The foreign dignitaries instead went for a Shikara (boat) ride in the famous Dal Lake. The Indian Army will brief the visiting diplomats on the security situation in Kashmir and are expected to give a detailed presentation on Pakistan’s involvement in fomenting and sponsoring terrorism in the newly-formed Union Territory. According to reports, the envoys will have a night halt in Srinagar before moving to Jammu next day where they are expected to meet Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu and civil society groups.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that the group would meet representatives of the civil society, including youths, political leaders, local businessmen during their visit to the Union Territory. After announcing reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir and withdrawal of its Special Status, India imposed severe curbs including on movement of people as well as on mobile telephone and Internet connectivity. The crackdown drew international criticism with several countries expressing concerns over the situation in Kashmir.
“As a part of the outreach efforts, visit of a second group of foreign heads of mission is being organised to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on February 12-13,” the MEA said. It said that the group is visiting Baramulla, Srinagar and Jammu and would meet representatives of the civil society, including youth from different ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities, local businessmen and political leaders. “They will also be briefed about the development programmes being implemented, get assessment of the security situation, and witness for themselves the progressive normalisation of the situation,” the MEA said. The group comprises envoys from Afghanistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Republic of Guinea, Hungary, Italy and Kenya. Envoys from Kyrgyztan, Mexico, Namibia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan are also part of it. The Government had taken a group of 15 envoys to Jammu and Kashmir last month with an aim to make them see the efforts to bring back normalcy in Kashmir Valley. A number of Opposition parties called it a “guided tour”.