EU delegation which visited Kashmir notes positive steps taken by Narendra Modi govt to restore normalcy

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 16 Feb 2020

Srinagar: Visiting Jammu and Kashmir, an European Union delegation has sought the quick lifting of remaining restrictions in the Valley but at the same time noted the 'positive steps' taken by the Narendra Modi-led government in New Delhi to restore normalcy in the area.

The EU delegation visited Kashmir recently, months after the abrogation of Article 370, which had conferred it special status for nearly seven decades. Apart from scrapping Article 370 and 35 A, the Central government divided the state into two Union Territories (UTs). 


The delegation visited the region from Feb 12 to 13.

The programme of the visit organised by the Government of India included meetings with civil and military authorities, some political representatives, as well as selected representatives of civil society and the business community.


"The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy," said Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. 


"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,"  Virginie Battu-Henriksson said.


The impressions stated by the delegation during their visit to Kashmir are as given below:


People in Kashmir may not be very happy with abrogation of 370, but  have the desire to move on as they know that there is no going back.


Expectations from the Government to deliver on the promises of economic development.


Need to protect domiciles and protect government jobs for locals.


Desire that restrictions on internet be lifted.


Hardly any voice heard expressing any concern about political detainees. They largely want focus on fulfillment of  their development aspirations. Many were critical of the earlier political regimes in the state for corruption, poor governance, lack of development.


Civil administration clarfied that there was never a "lockdown" or a "clampdown". Some reasonable restrictions were put in place that have been lifted. Driving through the city one could see people going about their businesses normally. There was traffic on the road and shops were open. Security deployment around during the drive though reflected terrorism concerns that exist.


Media representatives said that they were never gagged or instructed what should be written or not written. However, their work was constrained by lack of internet.


Across the board criticism of Pakistan that it was sponsoring terrorism and separatism in Jammu and Kashmir for its own selfish interest.


Jammu civil society, especially the socio- economically weaker section, the women, the refugees from West Pakistan, ethnic minorities, Kashmiri Pandits were very happy with abrogation of 370 and hope to receive benefits that they were deprived of in the earlier regime.


Civil administration made a strong case in support of abrogation of 370 citing scams, corruption, nepotism and favouritism and laid out its plans for better governance and for widespread  economic development.


The Chief Justice, who is the first women CJ of J&K, made a passionate and convincing case about steps being taken to ensure access to justice to marginalised of the marginalised, women, children and dealing with allegations of human rights abuses.


The independent judiciary never stopped functioning and e- services are being used to provide access to remote parts of the Union Territory.

There is much work that needs being done but with peace and normalcy it should be possible to do so.

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