National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Thursday took a swipe at the foreign envoys who are on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the ground situation in the Union Territory post the revocation of its special status under Article 370.
“Thank you for visiting Kashmir,” Abdullah said in a tweet. “Now please send some real tourists from your countries to visit J&K.”
The National Conference leader had on Wednesday also raised questions about the purpose of the visit, as diplomats from 24 countries landed in Jammu and Kashmir. He said that the visit will be pointless as the diplomats will meet only “only hand-picked” individuals.
“We’ve seen these guided tours in the past particularly, in the immediate aftermath of August 5, 2019,” Abdullah had said. “If this proposed delegation is going to do the same thing, this visit will be as pointless as previous ones.”
The delegation was led by European Union Ambassador Ugo Astuto. It comprised of diplomats from France, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia and other countries. On Wednesday, the envoys met the mayor of Srinagar Junaid Mattu, chairpersons of the District Development Council and other local representatives. They also visited the Hazratbal shrine.
The envoys were briefed about the District Development Council elections that were held in Jammu and Kashmir in eight phases between November 28 and December 19. One of the foreign delegates, Juan José Cortez Rojas, a delegate from Bolivia, said the situation in the Union Territory was impressive. “What we are realising is that democracy took place here,” he said. “People here are happy with the political decisions the central government took.”
India has organised two visits for foreign envoys since it abrogated Article 370 on August 5, 2019, and split Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. The move was accompanied by a crackdown, including deployment of thousands of additional troops, a sweeping curfew, thousands of arrests, and a virtual communications blackout.
Authorities have since eased several restrictions, including the restoration of landlines and internet services.
However, the Forum for Human Rights in Jammu and Kashmir, an independent body co-chaired by former Supreme Court judge Madan B Lokur, said in a report released last week that rights violation continued in the erstwhile state – 18 months after the abrogation of its special status under Article 370.
The organisation noted that the counter-insurgency concerns were being prioritised over civilian and human security, “leading to vitiation of protections such as habeas corpus, prevention of illegal detention and strict restrictions on arrest and detention of children”.