The Indian government has taken envoys from 16 countries to Kashmir to assess the ground situation following months of complete lockdown. The envoys of the European Union have decided to skip the tour asking for more access.
Among those who arrived in Kashmir on Thursday morning are envoys from the US, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Norway, Maldives, South Korea, Morocco, and Nigeria among others. They arrived in Srinagar in a special chartered flight.
A report by news agency PTI said that the delegation of envoys will be taken to Jammu, the winter capital of the newly created Union Territory, for an overnight stay. During their stay, they will meet Lt Governor GC Murmu as well as civil society members.
The EU representatives have reportedly told the Centre’s Narendra Modi government that they intended to visit the newly created union territory on a later date when they would like to meet three former chief ministers namely Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. All three have been kept in detention since the central government announced the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on 5 August.
News18 reported that some EU Ambassadors didn’t want to be part of the group of envoys visiting Kashmir as they felt ‘certain restrictions in the programme were unfounded and mischievous.’
Some reports said that the EU ambassadors said that they were not prepared to be a part of a guided tour and, instead, wanted to interact with ordinary Kashmiris without any restrictions.
Last year, the Indian government had taken a group of right-wing MPs from the EU countries on a guided-tour of Kashmir. A leaked letter had shown how a self-proclaimed ‘International Broker’ Madi Sharma had pulled off a ‘PR stunt’ for Modi by facilitating the Kashmir trip of those EU MPs.