Srinagar: A member of the delegation of foreign envoys who are on a two-day visit to Kashmir said that they found Kashmir “beautiful” and are visiting the region as “tourists”.
“We are on a visit to Kashmir.. it is a beautiful place and we are just here as tourists,” Dominican Republic envoy Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos said during the visit.
As many as 25 envoys are visiting the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir from different nations across the world. This is the second such visit of foreign envoys visiting the region since the last month.
Members of the foreign delegation include heads of missions from European nations like France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands and Bulgaria, central Asian countries including Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Envoys from Canada, New Zealand, Poland and African countries like Uganda, Namibia and Rawanda and Latin American countries of Guinea, Dominican Republic and Mexico were also part of the delegation.
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s envoy Naim Taher Qaderi, who was also part of the delegation, said that he always wanted to visit Kashmir. “I saw schools open, people going to schools and shops open… it is that part of the world which I wanted to visit. So, it’s very great,” the envoy said.
When asked where he saw the schools open, since the schools in the region are closed due to winter vacations, the envoy said, “on the way from the airport to here”.
The foreign delegation arrived in Srinagar at about 11 am following which they traveled to Srinagar’s Hotel Lalit. The delegation later went on a Shikara ride in Lake Dal for about an hour before heading back to the hotel on the banks of Dal.
The delegation met with a select group of civil delegations and interacted with a group of traders, businessmen and tourism players about the status of business and tourism in the region.
The delegation is scheduled to visit the winter capital of Jammu tomorrow where they will be briefed by senior government officials and meet with Lt. Governor GC Murmu.
The security in the Valley especially in and around Srinagar was beefed up ahead of the visit with the security personnel from the police and paramilitary manning all the entry and exit routes of the city.
This is the third visit by foreign delegation to Kashmir since the government abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on August 5. The abrogation was followed by a massive clampdown in the region with all movement restricted and communication services severed.
Both the previous visits in October last year and in January were marred by controversy with many questioning the timing and manner of the visit. Many in the Valley including businessmen and members of political parties termed these as “guided tours”.
The visit comes days after the government slapped controversial Public Safety Act (PSA) on several regional political leaders including two former J&K chief ministers—Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.