India explains not allowing foreign journalists in J&K

“We don't want their presence to provoke problems— from people who would take advantage of it to show that there is unrest,” Jaishankar told Le Monde newspaper of France in an interview. PTI

The Government has not yet opened up Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) for international media as it does not want the presence of foreign journalists to be utilised to show that unrest was brewing in the Union Territory, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said.

“We don't want their presence to provoke problems— from people who would take advantage of it to show that there is unrest,” Jaishankar told Le Monde newspaper of France in an interview.

He was asked if the government of India would allow foreign journalists to visit J&K.

“I can't commit to a deadline, but as soon as it is safe, they (foreign journalists) can go,” said the external affairs minister, who, however, underlined that the situation in J&K had returned to normal.

The ministry of external affairs posted the transcript of the interview on its website.

Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in New Delhi stripped J&K of its “special status” and reorganized it into two Union Territories, foreign journalists were not allowed to visit the Valley.

Though the majority of the international community endorsed India's position that its moves on J&K were its “internal affairs” and “sovereign decisions”, New Delhi did draw flak from certain quarters for detention of a large number of political leaders and activists, communication blackout and restrictions imposed on citizens of J&K before, on and after August 5.

The American government, as well as lawmakers, have been expressing concerns over the human rights situation in J&K.

The US lawmakers have been particularly concerned over denial of permission to foreign journalists to visit the newly-created Union Territory.

Jaishankar told Le Monde that when “the reforms” (end of the special status of J&K and reorganization into two UTs) had been announced in August, precautions had been taken in view of the “danger of violent reactions from radical and separatist elements”.

“These restrictions have been gradually reduced, and as the situation normalises, telephone and mobile lines have been restored, shops are open and the apple harvest is underway. The situation is back to normal,” the external affairs minister said in his interview to the newspaper published in France.

He said in response to another question that India's relations with Pakistan were “difficult” for many years.

“The relationship is difficult since many years, mainly because Pakistan has developed an important terrorist industry and sends terrorists to India to carry out attacks,” said Jaishankar, “Pakistan itself does not deny this situation. Now, tell me: which country would be willing to talk and negotiate with a neighbour who openly practices terrorism against it?””

“Pakistan must demonstrate a real willingness to cooperate with India. For example, there are Indians wanted for terrorist activities living in Pakistan. We are telling Pakistan: hand them over to us,” said Jaishankar.

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