Foreign diplomats arrive in J&K to assess situation

Third batch of foreign diplomats arrive in Jammu and Kashmir to assess ground situation

The envoys are also scheduled to meet local entrepreneurs, small businessmen and sarpanches later in the day.

Diplomats from 25 countries— including some from the European Union— on Wednesday arrived in Srinagar to assess the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir more than six months after the abrogation of erstwhile state’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.

After their arrival in Srinagar, the envoys were seen taking shikara (boat) rides in the famous Dal Lake, after which they met some local reporters.

The envoys from Germany, Canada, France, Italy and Poland, New Zealand, Mexico, Afghanistan, Austria, Uzbekistan, as well as envoys from the European Union had a lunch meeting with local entrepreneurs and some political leaders.

Sources said later in the day, they were briefed by the army about the security situation arising in the Valley due to Pakistan-sponsored militancy in Kashmir.

The recent Nagrota attack in Jammu and Pulwama terror attack last February were also a topic of discussion, they said.

The envoys also met some locals, among whom was a group of young people being trained in the government's “skilled society” programme.

On Thursday, the envoys will head for Jammu, where they will meet Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu and the civil administration.

The chief secretary is expected to give a presentation to the foreign delegation on the present situation.

The trip is also expected to allay apprehensions about Pakistani propaganda against the Indian Army, officials said.

The visit of the foreign envoys is the third such visit since August 5. A group of largely right-wing European parliamentarians visited Kashmir in October, prompting outrage from local politicians who were not allowed to meet them.

Last month, envoys of 15 countries including the US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster visited Jammu and Kashmir on January 9 and 10 to see first-hand efforts being made by the government in the region.

The latest visit of the envoys comes just days after two former chief ministers of J&K Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who are under detention since August 5, were booked under stringent Public Safety Act.

The Ministry of External Affairs had said there would be more such visits as the situation in Jammu and Kashmir further normalises.

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