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Centre’s Mission Kashmir 3.0: 25 member foreign delegation begins JK tour

Srinagar: 25 European Union Parlimentarians delegation members including Germany, Canada, France, Czech Republic ,Poland, Bulgaria, Afghanistan enjoys boat ride at Dal Lake after they reaches Srinagar to access the ground situation in Valley after the abrogration of Article 370,in Srinagar on Wednesday, Feb 12, 2020. PTI Photo by Umar Ganie

Srinagar, Feb 12: Seemingly praising the beauty of Kashmir, Ambassador from Dominican Republic Frank Hans Dannenberg on Wednesday sent officials into tizzy when he remarked that they have come as “tourists” to the valley.

Frank Hans Dannenberg is a part of 25 member diplomats’ delegation which arrived in Srinagar for  on-the-spot assessment of the situation post abrogation of Article 370


The group includes envoys from European Union, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Netherlands and Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Envoys from Canada, New Zealand, Poland Uganda, Namibia, Rawanda Guinea, Dominican Republic, Afghanistan and Mexico are also part of the delegation.

Soon after arriving at Srinagar International Airport, the envoys were taken to famed Dal Lake for a Shikara ride. Few of them took time out from their schedule to talk to media.

Ambassador from Dominican Republic Frank Hans Dannenberg appreciated the landscape of Kashmir saying they have come as tourists to the valley. “We have been seeing Kashmir and it is a beautiful place. We are just here as tourists,” he said.

Freddy Svane, envoy from Denmark said they have come to assess the situation in Kashmir. “It is fantastic to be here. We came here to see how thing are working here,” he said.

Tahir Qadiry, Charge de Affairs at Afghanistan embassy in New Delhi, said he saw shops open and students going to schools. “We are here to get a first-hand account of situation. It was great to see people opening their shops and students going to schools,” he said.

Qadiry said he had desired to visit Kashmir for long. “Everything is fine here. It is the part of the world I wanted to see. It is really great to see people here,” he said.

Later the envoys met various delegations including politicians, youth activists, students, journalists and women activists. From releasing politicians to restoration of internet, various demands were put forth by the local delegations during the meeting.

BJP’s spokesperson Khalid Jehangir, who was one among the visitors, urged the envoys to impress upon the central government to release mainstream political leaders including three former chief ministers.

EU Parliamentarians warming themselves with traditional firepot popularly known as “Kangri” while enjoying Shikara ride at Dal Lake, in Srinagar on Wednesday. Photo clicked by Umar Ganie/KM

“Government of India knows sufferings of people at administrative level. I pressed for immediate release of detained leaders including Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. Politicians also enjoy human rights,” he said.

 Politicians including Shoib Lone and Usman Majeed also met the visiting delegation.

Youth activist from Baramulla Tauseef Raina said he raised the issue of damage to property in the ceasefire violation on LoC.

“We told them to promote Kashmir handicrafts and tourism internationally. We urged the envoys that they should play their role to bring India and Pakistan on table for talks,” he said.

Activists from Pahari and Gujjar community also met the envoys and called for the implementation of Forest Act.

The envoys also had an interaction with a media delegation. Media persons spoke about  continuing blockade of the broadband services in the valley. A delegation of students also met the visiting envoys.

The diplomats are scheduled to travel to Jammu, where they will meet Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu and civil society groups.

The visit comes barely a week after Centre detained two former chief ministers, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and four other politicians including two ex-ministers, under Public Safety Act (PSA).

Last month, diplomats from 15 countries visited Kashmir. In October last year, another delegation of EU lawmakers visited Kashmir.

All these visits are staged: Yechury

Press Trust of India

New Delhi, Feb 12: Sitaram Yechury, general secretary, CPI(M), lambasted the central government for providing no relief to the people of Kashmir.

Commenting on the visit of a foreign delegation to Srinagar on Wednesday, he said, “Diplomats come and go. All these visits are staged. Once they leave, new draconian sections are slapped on the leaders of the J&K.”

Yechury was addressing a press conference in Delhi along with party member from Kashmir Yousuf Tarigami.

Tarigami too took a dig at the Centre, asking it to notify Jammu and Kashmir as a “central jail” so that it no longer has to enforce draconian laws like the Public Safety Act on its citizens.

Welcoming the AAP”s victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, he said the people of the national capital have shown some light in the “regime of darkness”.

“The government should notify Jammu and Kashmir as a central jail. Then they do not have to invoke the PSA or force us to stay inside our homes,” Tarigami said during a press conference at the party office here.

“We have no trust in the government, but we trust the wisdom of the people of this country who have expressed it time and again. What happened yesterday in Delhi gives us hope. The victory is the light in this regime of darkness,” he said congratulating the people of Delhi.

Tarigami attacked the Centre over the continued restrictions in the valley and said the delegations which are being taken to Jammu and Kashmir can see that even the guesthouses have been turned into “detention centres”.

Likening Jammu and Kashmir to Tihar jail, Yechury said, “Jammu and Kashmir cannot have a Shaheen Bagh for similar reasons as there cannot be a Shaheen Bagh in Tihar jail”.

Shaheen Bagh in Delhi has become the epicentre of the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act as women with young children have been staging a sit-in protest there for nearly two months.

“The government will repent what it did to J-K. I am also saying that all those people who clapped at the insult of Kashmir on August 5, where the entire community of Kashmir was humiliated, will repent it. The government has to take accountability of what happened. Hope it is not too late,” Tarigami said.

He also questioned why the central government did not hold elections in the state legislature and allow the people to decide their representatives.

Yechury also hit out at the government over the invoking of the draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) on former J-K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, and questioned how “getting support of people was a crime”, referring to the dossier on them.

The PSA was invoked against Abdullah due to his “considerable influence” and ability to draw voters to polling booths, said the government dossier that contained charges against the politician. Apart from him, Mehbooba Mufti and several other Kashmiri political leaders were charged under the Act last week.

Referring to the dossier which cites green colour of Mufti’s party flag as one of the reasons for slapping PSA on her, Yechury quipped that if the colour was the problem, then one-third of the Indian flag was also the same colour.

“If green colour is a problem, then how does one qualify the tricolour which has one-third green. Will that be removed?” he said.

Yechury also said that he was receiving delegations from Jammu and Ladakh regions from people who were concerned about their rights that they enjoyed in the past and under Article 35 A.

“Till the time the Supreme Court does not decide on the petitions challenging the abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A, the Jammu and Kashmir administration should not take decisions like giving government land to individuals and trusts from different states. Such decisions cannot be legally sustainable,” he added.