February 12, 2020

25-member foreign envoys in Kashmir, meet delegations

Srinagar: A 25-member foreign delegation, which arrived here on Wednesday to assess the overall situation in Kashmir valley, met various delegations, including recently elected municipal councilors and people from far flung areas.

The foreign delegation, comprising of members from Afghanistan, Germany, Canada and France and other countries, are here on a two-day visit to assess the situation post scrapping of Article 370 and 35 A besides dividing the state into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5 by the centre.

This is the third delegation of Ambassadors and Members of Parliament of different European countries visiting the Kashmir valley after August 5. However, the opposition parties have questioned the centre’s decision to allow foreign delegations when MP and other leaders of the country are not allowed to visit the valley.

Soon after arriving in the summer capital, Srinagar, the delegation was taken to world famous Dal Lake, where they are enjoying Shikara ride despite chilly weather conditions.

Official sources said that a delegation arrived here on a two-day visit to Kashmir. However, the visit comes about a week after two former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti and several other leaders were booked under Public Safety Act (PSA).

They said the envoys met different delegations, who had come from border town of Tanghdar, Kupwara, Bandipora, besides other places. “Shepherds from far flung areas of the Kashmir also met the representative of different countries during the interaction which lasted for over an hour,” they added.

All Party Sikh Coordination Committee (APSCC) chief Jagmohan Singh after meeting the foreign envoys told UNI that he raised issues of internet gag and securing land and job rights of the people of J&K. “Due to the internet gag, J&K in general and Kashmir valley in particular has lost business worth crores of rupees. As the situation has improved, gag on internet should be completely lifted and land and job rights of the people of J&K should be protected,” he told UNI.

The delegation was later briefed by the top Army and other security agencies officials about the security situation, particularly attempts being made to send more militants into this side from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) and frequent ceasefire violations by Pak troops at Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) in the Union Territory (UT). They were also briefed about the development and other works being undertaken in the valley.

Sources said the delegation members will also visit Kupwara and border town of Uri in Baramulla in north Kashmir on Thursday before flying back to New Delhi.

Two delegations of different foreign countries visited Kashmir valley since August 5. However, the delegations met selected members of civil society, senior Army and civil officials. A number of individuals, including houseboat owners, shikara wallas and others associated with tourism met these delegations.

Traders associations and other prominent federations members did not met these delegations.

However, former ministers and ex-legislators of different political parties, who were released from detention after they gave an undertaking not to raise the issue of scrapping of special status of the state, met these delegations. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) later expelled the leaders who met these delegations.

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