European diplomats visit Kashmir to check India’s loosening of clampdown

  • European diplomats visit Kashmir to check India’s loosening of clampdown

European diplomats visit Kashmir to check India’s loosening of clampdown

Representatives from several countries, including Germany's ambassador Walter Lindner, were pictured on a traditional wooden shikara boat on Dal Lake in Srinagar.

New Delhi stripped the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of special status and clamped down on communication and freedom of movement in August.

Security has been beefed up in the city and around the hotel where the delegation of foreign envoys is staying. "Such tamashas have in the past left a negative impact on the psyche of the people, especially in the Kashmir Valley".

The envoys are also expected to meet Lt. Governor GC Murmu in Jammu. For the third consecutive time - following foreign diplomats' visits to the Valley in October 2019 and January this year - the same set of local politicians, journalists and traders met the envoys.

The delegation includes diplomats from Canada, Austria, Uzbekistan, Uganda, Slovak Republic, Netherlands, Namibia, Kyrgyz Republic, Bulgaria, Germany, Tajikistan, France, Mexico, Denmark, Italy, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Poland, and Rwanda.

Envoys by the Dal lake. It (Kashmir) is the part of the world I always wanted to visit.

The Afghan envoy, Tahir Qadiry, tweeted; "The 2-day visit of the 25 foreign envoys to J&K concluded".

Though the envoy said the group saw many schools open along the road on way from the airport, educational institutions were shut in Kashmir on December 16 previous year for a three-month winter vacation.

The delegates visit comes barely a week after the Centre detained two former J&K chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and four other politicians including two ex-ministers, under the controversial Public Safety Act (PSA).

Likening Jammu and Kashmir to Tihar jail, Tarigami and Yechury said at the media conference that the region "cannot have a Shaheen Bagh as there can not be a Shaheen Bagh in Tihar jail".

On pointed question from the envoys if the situation has improved since August 5, Ms. Habib said, "It's too early to say if there is change on the ground as the access to basic facilities remain denied". "They will also get a firsthand account of the situation through their meeting with delegations", said the official.

He added, "Taking them on shikara rides on the Dal lake and allowing them to meet only people handpicked by the government agencies are not going to help".

The fresh batch of diplomats also includes EU representatives, and their participation assumes significance as the EU Parliament recently initiated to bring a joint draft resolution on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Kashmir, the vote on which was later deferred. "They expressed concern over Internet blockade and the impact of revocation of Article 370 on the political situation, business activities, education and social life of the people of J&K", said an official facilitating the visit. I just wanted to see how things are here. "I am happy", said another envoy.

Last month, diplomats from 15 countries visited Kashmir.

"The government should notify Jammu and Kashmir as a central jail". Many EU countries had refused to be part of the "guided tour". This is the second batch of foreign envoys visiting the Union territory in the last one month.

Qadiry tweeted, "In our interaction with Kashmiri media outlets, media people seriously urged the govt to restore internet broadband as it is causing them so much problems to report and broadcast". The demand for statehood, restoration of internet, development dominated the discourse during the envoy's meet with civil society in Srinagar.