New Delhi: Countries from the European Union on Wednesday stalled their visit to Jammu and Kashmir on the Centre’s initiative on Thursday as they did not want a ‘guided tour’ of the Union Territory.
However, the government quickly got into the act stating that such claims were “unfounded” and “mischievous” and that the EU Ambassadors will undertake a trip to Jammu and Kashmir at a later date.
“EU envoys welcomed this initiative by the government. However, EU envoys wanted to visit J&K as a group, which was not possible to accommodate due to restrictions in numbers and to keep the group broad-based,” officials from the government said.
According to government sources, some envoys visiting J&K did not want to be a part of the tour owing to several restrictions in the programme. They rather wanted to meet the people they wanted to interact with, sources told IANS.
“Some EU Ambassadors conveyed that the visit was taking place at short notice. The group was free to interact with people subject to security considerations. In any case, no Ambassador had specifically asked to meet anyone who was detained. It was therefore decided that a group of EU Ambassadors will undertake a trip to J&K at a later date,” the government sources furthered.
Notably, a similar tour schedule has been planned for a delegation of 17 envoys, primarily from Latin American and African countries, who aim to meet civil society members where they will be briefed on the security situation in the newly-formed Union Territory.
A delegation of parliamentarians of the European Union had visited the Valley in October, three months after the Modi government scrapped provisions under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. During their visit, they wanted to understand the ground situation as they were briefed by security forces and met locals afterwards.
The detention of political leaders and activists has run into the sixth month this January and many parts of the Valley still suffers internet shutdown. The government had organised the two-day visit of envoys to allay these concerns that had reached global leaders.