A group of 24 Foreign Heads of Missions, representing various geographical regions, visited the Union Territory to witness the changes on ground after the repeal of Article 370 and also interact with the leaders and elected representatives.
The delegation includes envoys from Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Bolivia, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, EU, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Italy, Bangladesh, Malawi, Eritrea, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Senegal, Malaysia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. The group arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday, Feb 17. Their 2-day program involved interaction with elected representatives of Block Development Council and District Development Council from across the UT of J&K, civil society members and mainstream media.
On 17th the delegation visited in Budgam District of Central Kashmir to witness the “Block Diwas”, a public outreach initiative organised every week by the local administrations in Jammu and Kashmir. The local District Development Council Chairperson briefed the envoys about Magam and the developmental activities undertaken in the recent past in Budgam. They also visited various stalls set up for the public at the Block Diwas to get themselves acquainted with the people-centric schemes being implemented by the Government.
During their stay in Srinagar, the envoys had an interaction with the elected grassroots leadership from all districts of Kashmir Division, representing various regional and national political parties. The Mayor of Srinagar, Chairpersons of Urban local bodies and Chairpersons of BDC and DDCs shared their vision for development centric administration in the decentralised and empowered grassroots framework.
The visit also provided the envoys with an opportunity to interact and hear directly from the general public and their local level people’s representatives on the functioning and empowerment of grass-root democratic institutions, devolution of power, developmental activities, local issues, grievance redress mechanisms among others.
After the interactions, the diplomats unanimously voiced that the historic DDC elections were conducted in a peaceful transparent and fair manner as reported by Organiser Weekly.
Organiser Weekly reports that Juan José Cortez Rojas, Charge d Affaires, Embassy of Bolivia in Delhi, lauded the Centre and said, “What we are realising is that democracy took place here. It is impressive.” He also said that people here are happy with the political decisions taken by the central government.
On 18th, the delegation met the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court Pankaj Mittal. During this meeting, the diplomats held talks on several important issues with him. As per a report on JammuKashmirNow, Chief Justice Pankaj Mittal spoke about the laws that came into force in Jammu and Kashmir after the repeal of Article 370. Apart from this, the Chief Justice explained in detail about the new Domicile Rules to the delegation.
The delegation is expected to meet Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha in Jammu during their visit.
These interactions have been facilitated by the Ministry of External Affairs as a part of the central government’s approach to convincing the global community of India’s sincerity in ensuring development and enhanced and meaningful democracy in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Art 370 since Aug 5, 2019.
Earlier too, foreign diplomats had visited Jammu and Kashmir and had got a feel of the ground situation after the abrogation of Article 370 that ended a special provision granted to the province earlier. On Aug 5, 2019, the centre had abrogated the contentious Article and also bifurcated Ladakh region from J&K and declared that both would be under centrally administered union territories.