Fresh batch of 25 envoys on 2-day visit

Foreign envoys express satisfaction after Kashmir visit, say ‘good to see situation getting normalised here


SRINAGAR, Feb 12: On a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir as part of a delegation of foreign envoys, Uganda's High Commissioner to India, Dinah Grace Akello, on Wednesday said it was good to see the situation getting normalised in Kashmir.
Akello is a part of a group which includes diplomats from 25 countries, who are currently on a two-day trip to Jammu and Kashmir to get a first-hand experience of the situation in the region and the efforts made by the government. "I see this region as very important for India; very strategic but a very beautiful part of the country. The people, with whom I spoke, they all wanted development in this area. Everyone wants to seek investors in the region. I am much buoyed by this. My spirits have risen because whenever I heard about this region earlier, the news was only related to the conflict. So I see a lot of hope in the future," the High Commissioner told ANI.
The second batch of foreign envoys took a tour of the famous Dal Lake upon reaching Srinagar on Wednesday morning.
The group comprises of representatives from Afghanistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Republic of Guinea, Hungary, Italy, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Namibia, The Nether lands, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan's envoy to India Tahir Qadiry stated that he was amazed by the hospitality of the people of Kashmir during his visit to the Valley.
"It is very nice to see the hospitability of the Kashmiri people. We are here to have a first-hand account of the situation over here. We have been here for a couple of hours but we have seen people running their businesses and kids going to school as well. So it is very good to see the situation getting normalised. We really hope that this is the case in other parts of the state," Qadiry said.
"We also talked to a group of activists, young people, and traders. It is good to know that they want peace in Kashmir. They want the economy to be revived and I really hope to see Kashmir at a different level very soon," he added.
Reiterating similar sentiments, Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India, Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castell-anos, said, "We came to see the normalisation of the situation here after the Article 370 elimination. We are very pleased to see the commerce and the traffic and the people in the streets.
I think it is important that the number of ambassadors not only from the European Union but other parts of the world as well are here to personally talk and discuss how things are going on here."
"Certain normal is back; not as normal as we want it to be because in order to keep ourselves safe there are a lot of security forces here. But we think that slowly and steadily things will get better," Castellanos said.
Meanwhile, German Ambassador Walter Lindner said, "We came here and wanted to talk to people. Any hasty reaction right now would not be good. So let us talk to people, let us exchange notes, then we will speak." Ambassador of Denmark to India Freddy Svane stressed that it is difficult to have a dialogue over Kashmir if various sources are not heard.
"I think it is important to come here. You cannot have a dialogue about Kashmir if you haven't listened to various sources, about what kind of expectations they have. What they have moved from; what they are into and what kind of wishes they have for the future. It is important to have a holistic picture," Svane said. Earlier in the day, the envoys had also met members of various civil societies in Srinagar.
Security has been beefed up in the city and around the hotel where the delegation of foreign envoys is staying. Last month, envoys of 15 countries including US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster and diplomats from Vietnam, South Korea, Brazil, Niger, Nigeria, Morocco, Guyana, Argentina, Philippines, Norway, Maldives, Fiji, Togo, Bangladesh, and Peru visited Jammu and Kashmir on January 9 and 10 to see first-hand efforts being made by the government in the region.
ANI spoke to some of the envoys who visited Kashmir last month. The diplomats had expressed satisfaction, hoping for the return of the normalcy in the region soon. (ANI)

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