Foreign envoys meet civil society, local youth in Kashmir

Feb 13, 2020

Foreign envoys meet civil society, local youth in Kashmir

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Feb 12 (ANI): A delegation of foreign envoys on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir met civil society members, youths and political activists here on Wednesday.
"The delegation questioned us regarding the media reports over the conflict in the region. There is nothing like that. We also kept our local grievances before the delegation. We urged them to sort out the local problems rather than making Kashmir an international issue. Even we understand that the internet has been suspended in the region to stop a certain group from spreading false propaganda about the region," said Tariq Bhatt from Kashmir-based South Asia Peace Movement.
Bhatt also said that the delegation focused on the political detentions in Kashmir at present.
On February 6, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and People's Democratic Party (PDP) leader Mehbooba Mufti, both former chief ministers of Jammu and Kashmir, were booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).
"If a former chief minister is detained, then why aren't his supporters coming out onto the streets? It is because they are happy with the decision of him being detained. These leaders have completely deteriorated our economies, especially due to their trend of dynasty politics. When they remain in power, they speak of development but when they are in opposition they have a specific agenda," Bhat told ANI.
A batch of foreign envoys from 25 countries is on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the ground situation in the Union Territory.
The group consists of diplomats from Afghanistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Republic of Guinea, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Namibia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan.
The group visited Baramulla, Srinagar and Jammu where they met the representatives of the civil society including youths from different ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities, local business and political leaders, civil administration and representatives of mainstream media.
"We really appreciate such moments when diplomats look forward to speaking to us because we are directly in touch with the realities. Through foreign diplomats, we would like to invite people from across the world to visit our land and enhance the tourism sector which has been witnessing negligible growth due to the rise in conflict," Tauseef Raina, a political activist from Baramulla, said.
Wajahat Farooq Bhat, a local youth from North Kashmir also said that the foreign delegation majorly focused on the development in the region as well as the situation in Kashmir post the abrogation of Article 370.
"I told them (foreign envoys) that Article 370 -- that provided special status to Jammu and Kashmir -- was only used for the self-interest of certain politicians," Bhat told ANI.
"They have made false promises to the people in the region. It is because of them that the youth has been deprived of employment opportunities in the region," he added.
The young man further noted that the delegation had also asked him the reason for the presence of heavy security in the region to which Bhat replied, "We need security forces to safeguard ourselves from the propaganda being spread by Pakistan. Many of our innocent people have lost their lives due to this reason."
Security has been beefed up in the city and around the hotel where the delegation of foreign envoys is staying.
Last month, envoys of 15 countries including US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster and diplomats from Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh, and Peru visited Jammu and Kashmir on January 9 and 10 to see first-hand efforts being made by the government in the region.
ANI spoke to some of the envoys who visited Kashmir last month. The diplomats had expressed satisfaction, hoping for the return of the normalcy in the region soon. (ANI)