Binoo Joshi

Special to JK News Today 

Jammu, February 17:

A group of European envoys  is on a visit of the Kashmir Valley  from  Wednesday to see for themselves the situation in correct perspective . This is a normal practice for any nation to invite the diplomats of other countries to make their own assessment of the situation about which various stories crisscross one another and cloud the real picture.

This situation has arisen vis-à-vis Kashmir because  of three major factors – the August 5, 2019 decisions  of the Government of India to scrap special status  of Jammu and Kashmir  under Article 370 that was part of the Indian constitution ; and bifurcation of the state into two union territories of J&K with legislature , and Ladakh without any such political institution.

Secondly, these fateful  decisions  gained extra significance and attention because  an armed militancy directed against the Indian nation was already going on  and that had caused huge losses. Thousands of youth were killed,  a sizeable section migrated from the Valley and its image suffered an unimaginable dent – from a safe tourist destination to  the hot spot where guns and grenades exploded.

And Pakistan is a major factor trouble in the Valley . it continues to do so, and it is experimenting with different permutations  to keep the trouble going on  in the Valley .

What would  the envoys on “ guided tour”  do? Will they breach the hospitality of their hosts and report back what their hosts want them to see? These are some of the questions that  always crop up when such exercises are undertaken .

 But then there is an appropriate answer : during the previous visits , the envoys spoke their mind and did not mince words, of course in diplomatic lexicon, to tell the government of India  what it should be doing in Kashmir.

In the aftermath of the previous visits in 2019 and early 2020, it was made clear to Delhi that it would have to release the political prisoners- they were concerned particularly about the detention of the three former chief ministers – Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti. They  were also critical of the suspension of the internet services in Jammu and Kashmir .

That certain steps were taken in this regard  by the government at the time of its choosing , but the impression of the international community about Kashmir was also dispelled . 

There are concerns and the governments  know it better when to do the things for they are better aware of the situation as they deal with the incidents and individuals on day to day basis  than the international community . 

The importance of the ongoing visit  has to be seen against the backdrop of what has happened in the past few months , especially after the Corona virus  started showing signs of decline that political activities  have resumed, the political leaders have started visiting various parts of Kashmir, holding their workers’ conventions. They also took part in the  District development Council elections in all the 20 districts of Jammu ad Kashmir. These steps define a direction , which may not be  known to the world outside  that how it has changed the democratic landscape in Kashmir .