Srinagar, Feb 17: Foreign envoys from 17 different countries arrived here on Wednesday on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the overall ground situation in the Union Territory (UT).
This is the third visit of envoys from foreign countries since August 5, 2019, when the Centre abrogated Article 370 and 35A besides divided the erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs) besides detained almost all mainstream leaders, including three former Chief Ministers—Dr Farooq Abdullah , Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
However, this is the first visit of the foreign envoys after 4G internet service was restored in Jammu and Kashmir since August 15, 2019 and successful election of District Development Commission (DDC) chairmen.
Meanwhile, former CM and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti has said that visit anybody can visit here and envoys should be allowed to meet everyone so that they can receive first-hand information of the situation in J&K.
The envoys were given a warm welcome by the divisional administration at the Srinagar International Airport today. Additional security forces had been deployed on the Airport road to prevent any demonstration. A security force bunker on the airport road removed on Tuesday.
Though no official information was available about the visit of envoys , official sources said they will visit a private school in central Kashmir district of Badgam besides meet some individuals there.
No invitation has been so far extended to leaders of mainstream political parties from opposition.
The envoys are likely to meet DDC members besides some civil society members besides visit Hazratbal shrine, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, on the bank of Dal Lake and world famous Dal Lake.
They said the envoys will be briefed about over all law and order situation in the valley and security situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) with Pakistan.
Tomorrow they will visit Jammu where they are likely to meet Lt Governor Manoj Singh and other security officials.
Envoys from 17 nations, including the US, visited Jammu and Kashmir last year while a delegation of 23 European Union MPs visited the Union Territory three months after the Centre abrogated Article 370 , besides dividing the erstwhile state into two Union Territories.
Meanwhile, Ms Mehbooba said that the visit has been tailored by the Centre as the envoys would be allowed to meet selected people. “If the Centre actually wants to show the foreign dignitaries the real situation in J&K, they would allow the envoys to meet everyone,” she said.
Ms Mehbooba said everyone is welcomed to visit Kashmir, but restrictions should not be put on the movement of local leaders.