Jammu, January 10:
In the first such trip by foreign diplomats post August 5, envoys of 15 countries including the US on Friday interacted with civil society members and were briefed by a high level team led by Chief Secretary BVR Subramanian and DGP Dilbag Singh.
The team arrived in the Kashmir valley on Thursday where they interacted with select political representatives, civil society members as well as military top brass even as the government rejected criticism that it a “guided tour”.
US Ambassador to India Kenneth Juster was among the Delhi-based envoys who spent around seven hours in Srinagar.
Last October, some members of the European Parliament had visited Srinagar but envoys had so far not been allowed to visit the valley.
The official team led by Chief Secretary and DGP arrived this morning and briefed the team on various aspects of the security situation post abrogation of Article 370 and carving out two UTs, officials said.
It was followed by the meeting with various various delegations including West Pakistan refugees, Valmiki Samaj and representatives of Gujjars and lawyers, they said.
Financial commissioner, Health Atul Dulloo briefed the team about the health facilities created by the government and gave a overview of the sector.
The meeting is presently on with delegations, they said.
The team is scheduled to visit the biggest Kashmiri migrant camp at Jagati on the outskirts of Jammu city late this afternoon and will interact with them.
The envoys flew to Jammu, the winter capital of the newly carved out union territory, last evening. Lt Goveror G C Murmu hosted a dinner and interacted with them.
Earlier, they were flown in a chartered aircraft which landed at the technical airport here. They were taken directly to the army cantonment for a briefing by top military brass, officials said here.
This time there was no hartal call and shops and business establishments were functioning and civilian traffic was seen on the roads unlike the October visit of the delegation of Members of European Parliament, which was organised by a private NGO.
The delegation, accompanied by Secretary (West) of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup, was briefed by a team of top army officers led by Lt Gen K J S Dhillon, who heads the strategically-located XV corps in Kashmir, they said.
The envoys, who are here as part of the government”s diplomatic outreach to rebut Pakistan”s propaganda on the Kashmir issue, would also be a part of a reception hosted by Lt Governor G C Murmu in the evening at Jammu.
Besides the US, the delegation includes diplomats from Bangladesh, Vietnam, Norway, Maldives, South Korea, Morocco, and Nigeria. They would return to Delhi on Friday.
Brazil and Uzbekistan”s envoys Andre Aranha Correa do Lago and Farhod Arziev were also scheduled to visit Jammu and Kashmir. However, they backed out because of their preoccupation here.
This is the second visit of a foreign delegation to Jammu and Kashmir since August 5. Earlier, Delhi-based think tank, International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, took 23 EU MPs on a two-day visit to assess the situation in the union territory.