15 foreign envoys to embark on a two-day visit to J-K today: Govt sources
The two-day visit is being organised following requests from Delhi-based envoys to visit Kashmir after the government’s decision last August to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two union territories, the people cited above said.Updated: Jan 09, 2020 00:57 IST
A group of at least 15 foreign envoys from different regions will be taken to Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday to see the government’s efforts to restore normalcy in the region, people familiar with developments said on Wednesday.
The two-day visit is being organised following requests from Delhi-based envoys to visit Kashmir after the government’s decision last August to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split the state into two union territories, the people cited above said.
The envoys will be drawn from different regions and diplomats from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America are expected to be part of the first such group to be taken to Kashmir, the people said. The final tally could increase as confirmations were awaited from some countries till late on Wednesday.
Envoys from European Union (EU) won’t be part of the group and they will make a trip to Jammu and Kashmir at a later date, said a person who declined to be named.
“Reports that EU ambassadors are not part of the group of envoys visiting Jammu and Kashmir due to certain restrictions in the programme are unfounded and mischievous,” the person said.
HT had reported on Wednesday that the EU mission in Delhi is discussing the proposed trip with the external affairs ministry. Dates for the trip are yet to be finalised, diplomats of two EU states had said.
The people cited above said India had wanted to take a global group of envoys to Kashmir with some EU ambassadors, and not all EU envoys were asked to join.
However, the EU envoys wanted to visit as a group, and this was not possible due to restrictions on numbers and to keep the group broad-based, the people said. Some EU envoys also said the visit was being organised at short notice and they didn’t have time to seek instructions from their headquarters, the people added.
The people said the envoys would be free to interact with people subject to security considerations.
Officials in Srinagar said the group of envoys wwas expected to meet panchayat members and representatives of local body and NGOs. Representatives of several local bodies and NGOs, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had been informed by officials to be prepared for meetings in Srinagar on Thursday.
“I was called by an army officer and told to be ready to meet a delegation in Srinagar. I was asked to travel from Baramulla to Srinagar at 8 am but I wasn’t given details of whom I’ll be meeting,” said a member of an urban local body in North Kashmir.
The representatives said they would meet the delegation and present their point of view. The meetings with the envoys are expected to be held at either the army’s Badami Bagh cantonment or Lalit Grand Hotel on the banks of Dal Lake.
However, some prominent organisations said they hadn’t received any invitation for a meeting with the envoys. Sheikh Ashiq, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “I have not received any invitation.”