SRINAGAR: A second batch of 25 foreign
arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday for a two-day visit to Jammu and
to make a firsthand assessment of the situation in the Union Territory after months of restrictions following the nullification of
and the bifurcation of the state into two UTs.
The envoys, from the European Union, Africa, the Gulf region and other Asian countries, the Caribbean and Mexico had a shikara ride on the Dal lake as their trip to Baramulla to meet fruit growers was cancelled due to bad weather. They were taken to busy areas of the town, including City Centre, Jahangir Chowk, Rawalpora and Rajbagh, where they interacted with civilians before the shikara ride.
On Thursday, the Indian Army is scheduled to brief the visiting diplomats on the security situation in Kashmir and is expected to make a detailed presentation on Pakistan’s involvement in sponsoring terrorism in the newly formed Union Territory.
The external affairs ministry said in New Delhi that the visit was organised as part of the government’s outreach efforts and after requests from several foreign missions. Unlike the last occasion though, when European ambassadors skipped the visit, 12 of them were part of the 25-member delegation this time.
“The group is visiting Baramulla, Srinagar and Jammu where they would meet representatives of civil society, including youth from different ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities, local business and political leaders, civil administration and representatives of mainstream media. They will also receive briefings about the development programmes being implemented, get an assessment of the security situation, and witness for themselves the progressive normalisation of the situation,” an MEA statement said.
The group is staying at a five-star hotel on the banks of the Dal lake and will meet business representatives and others in Srinagar and Jammu. A group of journalists, too, met them in the evening. The diplomats were seen posing with civilians at dinner. The attendees included Sandeep Chatto, founder of Real Kashmir Football Club, social activist Jagmohan Raina, Gujjar Bakarwal leader Yaseen Poswal and apple traders, handloom and handicraft traders.
Official sources said that on Thursday the envoys will meet Lt Gov Girish Chandra Murmu in Jammu.
On January 9 and 10, diplomats from Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Niger, Nigeria,
, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway,
This second batch comprises 25 foreign heads of mission representing various geographical regions. They are from Afghanistan, Austria,
, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Guinea, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Slovak Republic, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Uzbekistan.
(With inputs from New Delhi)