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After Visiting Kashmir, Envoys Want Restrictions To Go

SRINAGAR: Some of the diplomats who were part of the third delegation of more than 25 envoys who visited Kashmir early this week, have spoken on Kashmir. While they suggested the NSA, Ajit Doval, to lift the curbs, French envoy also wants early removal of restrictions.

Foreign envoys pose for a group photo with top police and civil administration in Srinagar on Wednesday February 12,2020.

“This trip was important because, as an Ambassador, I need to see the situation with my own eyes in order to make an assessment as objective as possible,” French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain told The Indian Express. “It was useful to be able to interact directly with local authorities, and also with some parts of the civil society, local media and business community.”

Talking about the interventions, the ambassador said: “It is obvious that significant efforts are being made by the authorities to normalise the situation and move on swiftly towards economic development, for which the population has very high expectations. It implies removing as soon as possible the remaining restrictions, even though the security challenges were made very clear.”

Earlier, the newspaper reported the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson had said that “while we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly.”

She had asserted: “The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy. Some restrictions remain, notably on internet access and mobile services, and some political leaders are still in detention. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly. The visit presented a welcome opportunity to see the situation on the ground and to interact with local interlocutors. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with India on the situation in the region.”

After their return from Jammu and Kashmir, the 25 foreign envoys also met Ajit Doval today.

“Led by Afghan envoy Tahir Qadiry, one group was effusive and thanked the government for giving them an opportunity to have a dialogue with Kashmiris, claiming it would help them in evaluating the situation objectively. Another group, primarily from Europe, wanted restrictions to be lifted quickly,” The Tribune reported.

The NSA, according to India Todayhosted the 25 envoys over a cocktail reception which was attended by Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP MJ Akbar.

“While the issue of internet restrictions and political detentions came up during the visit, most of the envoys were of the view that there were efforts being made by the government to “normalise” the situation,” the media outlet reported.

“Positive steps towards restoration of normalcy were visible but there are still some restrictions which remain,” Germany’s Ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner told The India Today. “Most of the people we spoke to did raise the issue to full access to the Internet. It was on the mind of almost everyone we talked to. It’s necessary for economic development. If I say what was in the mind of the people, I’d say Internet access, peace and economic possibilities.”

He further added: “It was good to go there, as one can see and get a little glimpse of what the situation is like. This is, of course, a limited impression because of security reasons and you can’t meet everyone. But despite the limitations, we got the opportunity to talk to those whom we met without any restrictions and we indeed could ask all our questions, even critical questions and got answers.”

The diplomats from 25 nations – including some from the European Union – visited Srinagar and Jammu for two days on February 12, to survey the situation in Jammu and Kashmir six months after the centre ended the state’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories.

The group included envoys from Germany, Canada, France, Italy and Poland, New Zealand, Mexico, Afghanistan, Austria, Uzbekistan, as well as envoys from the European Union.

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