US Ambassador Among 16 Envoys To Visit J&K; EU To Skip, Wants More Access

US Ambassador Among 16 Envoys To Visit J&K; EU To Skip, Wants More Access

EC News Desk

New Delhi, January 9, 2020: Sixteen envoys will be visiting Kashmir on Thursday where they will meet civil society members, and be briefed on the security situation there. The envoys are mostly from Latin American and African countries.

Meanwhile, the European Union country envoys have conveyed to the Centre that they will visit the UT on a separate date and insisted on meeting the prominent leaders of the region who are still under detention including former Chief Ministers, Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, and Mehbooba Mufti.

The envoys visiting on Thursday will also go to Jammu, where they will meet Lt Governor GC Murmu and other officials before returning to Delhi on Friday.

The visit comes five months after Article 370 was struck down by government of India and union territories were carved out of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.

According to sources, the visit is arranged after a number of countries had requested the government of India to organise a visit of Kashmir for them, so that they could get first hand report of the situation on the ground following abrogation of Article 370.

The move to take the envoys to the valley is also being considered as a diplomatic effort by India to bust Pakistan's propaganda against it on the Kashmir issue. India had reached out to the P5 countries and all the world capitals, putting forward its perspective on its decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into two Union territories.

Ever since India announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 and reorganise Jammu & Kashmir last year, Pakistan has tried to corner India on the issue of Kashmir globally and has also downgraded diplomatic ties by expelling the Indian envoy.

The visit comes as a second delegation of foreign envoys visiting Kashmir post dissolution of Article 370. A delegation of 23 EU MPs had earlier visited Kashmir to access the ground situation in UT. International Institute for Nonaligned Studies, a Delhi-based think tank which had organized the visit then faced criticism for choosing people with certain ideological bent for the visit.

Owing to the controversy the state government had distanced itself from the visit then and Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy informed Parliament that the European parliamentarians were on a "private visit".

(Source NDTV