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EU envoys among 2nd batch of foreign diplomats visiting Kashmir to assess ground situation

On January 9, a group of around 15 foreign envoys based in New Delhi were taken to Jammu and Kashmir to see the first-hand efforts being made by the Government in the region.

SNS | New Delhi |

The second batch of foreign envoys on Wednesday arrived in Srinagar for a scheduled visit to the valley.

The batch has 25 foreign envoys, including ambassadors from Germany, Canada, France, New Zealand, Mexico, Italy, Afghanistan, Austria, Uzbekistan, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary as well as envoys of the European Union (EU).

Security has been tightened in the area around the hotel where the ambassadors are staying.

According to reports, the delegation will be briefed about the security situation in Kashmir by top Army commanders.

The foreign delegation is also likely to meet business representatives and others during its stay in Srinagar and Jammu.

In Jammu, the envoys will meet Lt. Governor GC Murmu.

The visit also comes days after the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) was slapped on former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers – Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.

The Government had on Monday informed that it has decided to take the second set of foreign envoys to Jammu and Kashmir this week, a month after the first group of diplomats was taken to the region to see the situation in the aftermath of the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August last.

“Since the last visit of envoys to Jammu and Kashmir on 9-10 January, we have received several requests from foreign ambassadors to visit the region. A group of envoys from different geographical regions will be visiting Jammu and Kashmir this week. We will share further updates in due course,” sources said.

The visit comes days ahead of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s trip to Brussels where he is expected to meet members of the European Parliament to explain the situation in Jammu and Kashmir which was stripped of its special status in August.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also expected to visit Brussels for the India-European Union summit likely to be held on 13 March.

On January 9, a group of around 15 foreign envoys based in New Delhi were taken to Jammu and Kashmir to see the first-hand efforts being made by the Government in the region.

It included envoys mainly from Latin American and African countries. They met civil society leaders and were briefed on the security situation by the Army and intelligence services.

However, countries from the European Union were not part of the delegation.

The Government had then said that the EU ambassadors will undertake a trip to the region at a later date.

Earlier it was reported that certain European envoys were not keen on a “guided tour” of J-K and rather wanted to meet the people they wanted to interact with.

Meanwhile, Wednesday visit is the second time when New Delhi has invited official representatives of foreign governments to visit Srinagar since the Parliament revoked Article 370.

Earlier in October last, a delegation of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) had reached Jammu and Kashmir to assess the situation on ground even as sporadic incidents of violence were reported from the Valley following the abrogation of Article 370.

However, the MEPs had come under criticism after it emerged that several of them belonged to right-wing parties in Italy, France and Germany.

In all, 22 of the 27 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were right-wing politicians in their respective countries.

Clarifying on the same, the Centre had said the two-day trip of the MEPs to Kashmir was like a “familiarisation visit”.