Foreign envoys begin visit to J&K
   Date :18-Feb-2021

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 Foreign envoys who are on a visit to Jammu and Kashmir standing outside the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar on Wednesday. (ANI)
A GROUP of envoys including those from several Europe Union countries and a few OIC member States began a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday to take a first-hand account of the situation in newly-carved Union Territory, especially after the recently-concluded local body elections. The envoys which has representation from four Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) -- Malaysia, Bangladesh, Senegal and Tajikistan -- were taken to Magam in central Kashmir amid heightened security arrangements in the city and elsewhere in the Valley, officials said here. Other envoys included in this delegation were from Brazil, Italy, Finland, Cuba, Chile, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Kyrgyzstan, Ireland, Ghana, Estonia, Bolivia, Malawi, Eritrea and Ivory Coast. This is the third delegation that has arrived in Jammu and Kashmir since the Government abrogated the erstwhile State’s Special Status on August 5, 2019 and bifurcated it into two Union Territories by carving out Ladakh. In Magam, the envoys went to a college and were received in a traditional way and after the customary rituals by the administration, they interacted with the locals.
It was a free-flowing exchange of ideas by the delegation with the locals, the officials said. Chairperson of DDC Budgam Nazir Ahmad, who interacted with the envoys, told reporters that he raised the need for the Government to provide basic amenities like food, clothing shelter, electricity and good roads. “Budgam is a downtrodden district which needs development. Our discussion was centred around it,” Ahmad added.
Later, the delegation was taken to a hotel located along the famous Dal lake where they interacted with Mayor of Srinagar, chairpersons of just-formed District Development Councils, Block Development Councils and Municipal Councils from all parties. The delegation was apprised of the Government’s initiative of ensuring democracy at grass-root level and strengthening of panchayats in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir by giving them financial powers. A significant thing about the delegation was the inclusion of OIC member States so that they could easily counter the propaganda of Pakistan which has been creating a false narrative about the situation in the Union Territory, the officials said.