A group of 16 envoys arrived in Srinagar on Thursday for a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. This is the second visit by a foreign delegation to the Union Territory after the erstwhile state’s special status, granted to it by Article 370, was revoked in August 2019.
US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster and envoys from 15 other countries, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Norway, Maldives, South Korea, Morocco and Nigeria, reached Srinagar’s technical airport by chartered flight, PTI reported. They were directly taken to the Indian Army cantonment for briefing.
The diplomats will visit Jammu and will also meet will meet Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu as well as civil society members and receive briefings on the security situation from various agencies. They will return to Delhi on Friday.
Srinagar: Delegation of 15 foreign envoys meets political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir including Ghulam Hasan Mir, Altaf Bukhari, Shoaib Iqbal Lone, Hilal Ahmed Shah, Noor Mohd Sheikh, Abdul Majid Padder, Abdul Rahim Rather and Rafi Ahmed Mir pic.twitter.com/ygC6vTrcuK
— ANI (@ANI) January 9, 2020
The envoys are on the two-day visit as part of the government's diplomatic outreach to rebut Pakistan's propaganda on the Kashmir issue.
Brazil's envoy Andre Aranha Correa do Lago was also scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir. However, he backed out because of his preoccupation here, officials said told PTI.
Envoys from the European Union (EU) countries are understood to have conveyed that they will visit the Union Territory on a different date and are also believed to have stressed on meeting the three former chief ministers — Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — who are under detention.
According to government sources quoted by The Indian Express, EU envoys wanted to visit Jammu and Kashmir as a group, but it was not possible to accommodate all of them due to restrictions on numbers. Some EU ambassadors conveyed that the visit was taking place at too “short a notice to seek instructions from headquarters,” sources said. “It was, therefore, decided that a group of EU ambassadors will undertake a trip to Jammu and Kashmir at a later date,” said the source.
Officials said envoys of several countries had requested the government for a visit to Kashmir to get a first-hand account of the situation in the Valley following the 5 August decision to abrogate provisions of Article 370 and bifurcate it into two union territories - Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
The first visit of a foreign delegation to Jammu and Kashmir since 5 August was organised by Delhi-based think tank International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, which took 23 EU MPs on a two-day visit to assess the situation in the Union Territory.
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Updated Date: Jan 09, 2020 15:40:22 IST