Praise Dal Lake’s beauty, Kashmiri hospitality
A second batch of 25 foreign envoys arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday as part of the Government of India-facilitated trip to get a first-hand assessment of the situation in Jammu Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 last year.
The envoys arrived at the Srinagar airport around 11 am but could not go ahead with their scheduled visit to Baramulla in north Kashmir due to inclement weather, officials said.
The foreign dignitaries instead went for a Shikara (boat) ride in Dal Lake.
The government had brought a group of 15 envoys to Jammu Kashmir last month with an aim to make them see its efforts to bring back normalcy in Kashmir.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the group would meet representatives of the civil society, including youth, political leaders, media fraternity and local businessmen during their visit to Jammu Kashmir.
“As part of the outreach efforts, visit of a second group of foreign heads of mission is being organised to Jammu Kashmir on February 12 to 13,” the MEA said.
It said the group is visiting Baramulla, Srinagar and Jammu and would meet representatives of the civil society including youth from different ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities, local businessmen and political leaders.
“They will also be briefed about the development programmes being implemented, get assessment of the security situation, and witness for themselves the progressive normalisation of the situation,” the MEA said.
The group comprises envoys from Afghanistan, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, the European Union, France, Germany, Republic of Guinea, Hungary, Italy and Kenya.
Envoys from Kyrgyztan, Mexico, Namibia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Rwanda, Slovakia, Tajikistan, Uganda and Uzbekistan are also part of the delegation.
A visiting envoy told reporters that he was in Kashmir “as a tourist”.
“Upon our arrival, we enjoyed a #Shikara ride on Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir. Beautiful lake and hospitable people. I bought a beautiful Kashmiri ring from a boat serving as a shop @MEAIndia," Afghanistan's envoy to India Tahir Qadiry tweeted.
He also praised Kashmiris for their hospitality.
“We Afghans claim that we are Mehman Navaz (hospitable), but Kashmiris are definitely so too. Interacted with a bunch of young people here. This girl is a gold medalist in basketball with very high hopes. Wishing this beautiful valley and its people lots of good wishes!" he said in another tweet.
On their meeting with journalists, Qadiry said, “In our interaction with the Kashmiri media outlets, the media people seriously urged the government to restore internet broadband as it is causing them so much problems to report and broadcast.”
The delegation also met various mainstream politicians, activists and editors of local newspapers.
In the interaction with media personnel, the delegation was apprised about the prevailing situation in the Valley that include the internet ban on media houses.
Meanwhile, the envoys from Canada, Slovakia and New Zealand stressed to create an atmosphere of peace and stability in the region.
The first group to visit Kashmir comprised envoys from the US, South Korea, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Fiji, Maldives, Norway, Philippines, Morocco, Argentina, Peru, Niger, Nigeria, Guyana and Togo.