Srinagar: Foreign envoys from the European Union who arrived on 2-day J&K visit on Wednesday said that they are here to assess the ground situation after the abrogation of Article 370.
The envoys in an interaction with the media persons here posed volley of questions to the scribes and sought feedback from them. One of the envoys asked the media men, “Is this normal Kashmir?” “If it’s so then has the ground situation changed?
One of the senior editor’s of a local daily replied, “It has been just one and a half year since the J&K’s special status has been revoked and it’s too early to declare Kashmir as normal.”
Another envoy asked about the progress that J&K has witnessed during the past one year. “Tell us about the progress?” he asked.
“Has the business improved? Has the security scenario changed?”
The scribes informed them about “the difficulties which the businessmen faced due to internet blockade and then the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. “In the end of 2020 many tourists visited Kashmir to celebrate New Year and Christmas. On that front there was an improvement,” the scribes said.
The envoys asked questions about the newly introduced domicile law in Jammu and Kashmir. “Are people happy with the new law or they want some changes?” they asked.
The envoys sought the feedback over industrial development in J&K “Are the investors coming forward?” they asked.
The envoys said that after seeking feedback from the people they meet they prepare “confidential reports” that cannot be discussed with the media and their visits are with a purpose.
One of the envoys asked the scribes about the freedom of the press in Jammu and Kashmir. “Do you people work freely?”
One of the senior editors of a local daily while replying to the envoy’s query said, “In an area which is conflict ridden things become difficult at times. After the abrogation of Article 370, internet was snapped and we were unable to gather the news and report it. People had started doubting our credibility. But we were helpless as in the era of digital age. We worked on 2G internet for long time. The 4G was restored just a few days ago. As such we have not faced any intimidation. But officials being inaccessible make things tough for us.”
When envoys were asked about how they feel about the situation, they remained tightlipped and said, “It’s too early to comment. In one day we cannot come to a conclusion.”
The scribes informed them about J&K’s history and stressed on the need for restoring the statehood. They also told the envoys that J&K has a huge area and it cannot function as a union territory for a longtime.
The envoys had come from Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, EU, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Bangladesh, Malawi, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Malaysia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
The visit is the third official one by foreign diplomats of to Jammu and Kashmir since the government’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and divide the State into two Union Territories (Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh) on August 5, 2019.