February 11, 2020

Team of foreign envoys to visit Kashmir again

Srinagar: A second batch of foreign envoys – many of them from the European Union — will be taken to Jammu and Kashmir later this week as part of the government’s efforts to display the measures taken to restore normalcy in the newly created union territory, NDTV quoting sources reported Monday evening. The two-day visit will begin on Wednesday. Of the 25 envoys in the group, 10 belong to the European Union, sources said. The group will visit Budgam, where they will be briefed by the army.
The EU had skipped the trip last month, when envoys from 15 nations, including the US, had visited Jammu and Kashmir. Sources said the lawmakers were not interested in a “guided tour”. The EU said its envoys would visit the Valley at a later date. This is the second time the Centre is facilitating the visit of foreign envoys to Jammu and Kashmir. The group that visited the Kashmir Valley last month were briefed by the army and interacted with a group of political leaders. The foreign ministry had said there would be more such visits as the situation progressively normalises.
Earlier, after the Centre scrapped the special status of the state granted under Article 370 of the constitution and bifurcated it into two union territories; a group of lawmakers from the European Union visited Kashmir Valley in their private capacity. The EU, however, skipped last month’s trip. Sources told NDTV that the lawmakers were not interested in a “guided tour”. The EU has said it would visit the Valley at a later date. A series of restrictions were placed on Jammu and Kashmir in August, when the government announced its big move in parliament. The government had said they were preventive measures against any backlash. Six months on, some of them were still in place, including the ban on cell phone internet that raised concern abroad. Last week, charges under the tough Public Safety Act were brought against former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who have been under preventive detention since August.

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