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NC, PDP criticise visit of envoys to J&K as an attempt to normalise its clampdown

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File Photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

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The J&K-based political parties, whose leaders are still in detention, feel the region will return to normalcy only if the jailed leaders are released.

The National Conference (NC) on Thursday said it was disappointed with the way the government brought envoys from various countries to Jammu and Kashmir to endorse its claims of normalcy in the union territory.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) alleged that the envoys have been brought to the valley on a guided tour, where access has been limited to handpicked individuals who toe the government line.

Envoys from 15 countries, including US Ambassador to India Kenneth I Juster, arrived here on Thursday on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the first visit by diplomats since August last year when the state’s special status was revoked and it was downsized to a union territory.

“The NC wishes to ask these envoys that if the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is normal, then why are scores of people, including three former chief ministers under detention for almost 160 days and why have the people been denied access to the internet for over 5 months?” a statement issued by the party said.

The party described the visit of envoys from 15 countries to Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as a repeat visit of the MPs from the European Union earlier..

The NC said, “While these visits may provide short-lived propaganda victories, true normalcy will only be achieved when all detainees are released, communications and internet restored and genuine political activity resumed.”

“While the rest of the country is told that peaceful dissent is the cornerstone of democracy, this right does not seem to extend to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Are the people of Jammu and Kashmir expected to live without the fundamental rights accorded to other Indian citizens?” it said.

The PDP wondered if the Prime Ministers Office will allow these visiting envoys to meet detained political leaders, including former chief ministers who are in detention for over 160 days.

The envoys, who are here as a part of the government’s diplomatic outreach to rebut Pakistan’s propaganda on the Kashmir issue, met some political leaders, including former PDP leader Syed Altaf Bukhari, soon after their arrival.

The PDP, commenting on a meeting of breakaway leaders of the party led by Bukhari with Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu earlier this week said, “The government jails those who aided its democracy and strings up puppets who are ready to bargain at the cheapest price.”

“The government should understand that those who really love Kashmiri soil are not for sale,” it said.

Officials said envoys of several countries had requested the government for a visit to Kashmir to get a first-hand account of the situation in the Valley following the decision on August 5 to abrogate provisions of Article 370 and bifurcate it into union territories.

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.

The government had distanced itself from the visit with Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy informing Parliament that the European parliamentarians were on a private visit.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 11:08:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/pdp-criticises-visit-of-envoys-from-15-nations-to-jk-as-an-attempt-to-normalise-its-clampdown/article30523730.ece

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