23 EU MPs visit Kashmir for first-hand assessment of situation

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SRINAGAR: A delegation of 23 EU MPs, on a two-day visit to assess the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, arrived here on Tuesday to a shutdown and clashes between people and security forces in several parts of the city and the Valley.

In New Delhi, the members of the delegation met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and NSA Ajit Doval on Monday and discussed the situation prevailing in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370.

A convoy of security vehicles escorted the MPs, who were travelling in bullet-proof vehicles, from the airport to their hotel where a traditional Kashmiri welcome awaited them.

Jammu and Kashmir, October 29 (ANI): The delegation of European Union Parliament during a group photograph with GoC 15 Corps, Lt General KJS Dhillon, in Srinagar on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam and police chief Dilbag Singh briefed the members of the European Parliament, the first high-level foreign visitors to Kashmir after the August 5 decision of the Centre to revoke the state’s  special status and bifurcate it into two union territories.

The team also interacted with members of the public, including the newly-elected panchayat members and councillors, at a five-star hotel here. As the winter chill settled over the city, there was some boating in the famed waters of the Dal Lake too.

The delegation was here for a first-hand assessment of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of Article 370. The delegation comprising 46 members including MPs, spouses of some of them, officials and translators arrived at Srinagar Airport and were driven to their hotel in a convoy of 33 vehicles under tight security.

The CRPF and police were guarding the road from the Airport to the Hotel Taj Vivanta where they are staying. Army had also sent a separate convoy of vehicles to transport them to the 15-Corps headquarters of the Army at BB cantonment where they had first meeting.

Jammu and Kashmir, October 29 (ANI): The delegation of European Union (EU) MPs visited Dal Lake in Srinagar on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Soon after their arrival, they were taken to the 15-Corps Headquarters where Army top Commanders briefed them about the situation in Kashmir. They were briefed by Army about attempts being made by Pakistan to create disturbance in Kashmir. They were told that Army has foiled dozens of infiltration attempts by Pakistan backed militants who are being aided by the Pakistan troops.
The Commanders also gave them detailed briefing about how Army is conducting operations in Kashmir against militants. The Army also hosted lunch for the delegation.
The delegation later met some of the delegations and individuals at hotel Lalit. Those who met the delegation included Surinder Singh Chenni, Farooq Andrabi and a delegation headed by Mir Junaid of BJP. Besides this, there were two more delegations who met the EU MPs and discussed the situation in Kashmir.
The law makers later in the evening had a boat ride at famous Dal lake and when asked about the boat ride, they said: “Kashmir is beautiful. We enjoyed the ride.”
They were later briefed by the Government officials at Taj Vivanta about the situation in Kashmir and Government’s efforts to restore peace in Kashmir. They were also briefed about the reason for bringing Jammu and Kashmir under Central rule. Later, the Government hosted dinner for the delegation which was attended by top Government, police army officials.
The EU delegation originally comprised 27 Parliamentarians, mostly from extreme right or right wing parties, but four of them did not travel to Kashmir and have reportedly returned to their respective countries.
This is the first high-level foreign delegation visiting Kashmir after August 5 decision of the Central Government announcing the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and the decision to bifurcate the State into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.