A delegation of foreign envoys to visit Kashmir today to assess the ‘development work’ and the government’s efforts to restore normalcy

Published : February 17, 2021 13:00 IST

Members of the foreign delegation interact with Panchayat representatives in Magam block, Budgam district, Jammu and Kashmir, on February 17. Photo: PTI

A delegation of foreign envoys will begin a two-day official visit to Jammu and Kashmir today. The visit has been organised to showcase the government’s “development work” in the former State as well as its efforts to restore normalcy after the revocation of its special status in August 2019. The delegation will be in Kashmir valley today and head to Jammu tomorrow.

The visit has been organised by the Ministry of External Affairs. The delegation includes a group of Ambassadors and senior diplomats, mainly from European countries. The envoys, nearly 20 in number, are from France, Italy, Spain, Finland, Bangladesh, Malawi and Ghana.

This is the third such visit conducted by India for foreign envoys and the international community to make an assessment of the ground situation after India unilaterally ended Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.

As per External Affairs Ministry officials, the envoys would receive first-hand information on the development work undertaken by the Union Territory administration and the steps undertaken for ensuring democracy at the grass-roots level. The envoys will have an interaction with the newly elected District Development Council (DDC) members beside a few prominent citizens and administrative secretaries.

Significantly, there is no meeting scheduled between the envoys and Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, former Chief Ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, who recently alleged that “they were barred from moving out”.

In November 2019, a delegation of 23 European Union MPs was taken on a two-day visit to assess the situation in the Union Territory by the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, a Delhi-based think tank. However, there were widespread allegations that the delegates came from “right wing, Islamophobic background”.