Jammu and Kashmir is all geared up for the visit of foreign envoys — the third such visit since the abrogation of Article 370.
Envoys from Europe and Africa will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday to assess the development work and the security situation in the union territory, news agency PTI quoted officials as saying.
They will travel to Srinagar and Jammu during their two-day visit.
The visit comes in the wake of successful District Development Council (DDC) and Block Development Council (BDC) elections, and revival of mainstream politics.
An expert said, “The last two times, things were more cosmetic. This time, it will be more than a mere image-building exercise with concrete things on the table.”
WHO WILL BE THE PART OF THE ENVOY?
Nearly 20 envoys — mostly from Europe including France, Italy, Spain, Finland — will be part of the delegation.
There are other countries — like Bangladesh, Malawi, Ghana — who will be on board the flight to the Kashmir Valley.
African countries will head to Magam as their first pit stop in the central Kashmir as soon as they land.
WHAT IS EXPECTED?
Officials said the envoy, during their two-day visit, would receive first-hand information on the development work undertaken by the union territory administration after the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019
Showcasing the efforts of the Centre for ensuring democracy at the grass-root level, the newly-elected members of the DDC would be meeting besides holding a meeting with a few prominent citizens and administrative secretaries.
According to sources, it is unlikely that the envoy will enjoy a boat ride in the famous Dal-Lake this year. Instead, they will be taken to the historic Hazratbal Shrine.
They are expected to interact with some representatives and spend a large amount of time at Hotel Lalit where they will share their afternoon meal with newly-elected DDC and BDC representatives.
Post lunch, they are likely to visit the Hazratbal Shrine.
On their return, they will meet members of civil society at SKICC.
In the evening, few media persons will interact with the visiting delegation, followed by a cultural programme in the five-star hotel.
The envoys will not meet former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, who recently alleged that “they were barred from moving out”.
The next day, before the delegation departs to Jammu, they will head to Badamibagh Cantonment where they will be briefed by the GOC-15 Corps on the threat from cross-border terrorism, and continued infiltration bids from Pakistan.
In Jammu, the members will meet Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Chief Justice of J&K and senior officials from administration, who will apprise the delegation of development-related work.
The envoys will also interact with a delegation of DDC members at Hotel Ramada in Jammu.
They will not visit the “camps” for displaced pandit in Jammu.
The envoys would be briefed about the security situation by senior officers involved with the law-and-order situation in the Kashmir valley, especially attempts of Pakistan to push terrorists into India through the Line of Control and also about the frequent ceasefire violations, officials said.
The visit comes a days after 4G mobile internet services were restored in the union territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir. “4G mobile internet services being restored in entire JK,” J&K Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal had confirmed on Twitter.
Last year, envoys from 17 nations including the US had visited Jammu and Kashmir. The team also comprised ambassadors from Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Uzbekistan, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh and Peru.
Three months after the Centre withdrew the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by revoking Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcated it into two union territories, a delegation of 23 EU 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.