India World

Foreign envoys on ‘Guided Tour’ greeted with shutdown in India’s Jammu and Kashmir

A group of foreign envoys concluded touring India’s Jammu and Kashmir region amid strong critical views globally over the decisions and the policies of the Indian government.

The delegation arrived in the lake city of Srinagar on Wednesday, where they were driven to a college in central Kashmir’s Budgam district to meet with a select few including elected representatives of the District Development Council.

Later the group were taken to the historic marble mosque on the banks of Srinagar’s picturesque lake.

The residents of Budgam and Srinagar observed a spontaneous shutdown while the envoys visited.

Shops and business establishments remained shut as hundreds of armed personnel manned the main roads and highways.

The authorities also removed five security bunkers from the main roads in the city, which locals criticised saying it was done to give “a false sense of normalcy to the visiting envoys”.

Officials said it was done to smoothen the traffic movement on the busy roads.

This was the third visit by foreign envoys to the region since the August 2019 abrogation of Kashmir’s limited autonomy by New Delhi, implemented with a crippling lockdown and communication blackout that lasted several months.

The former chief minister of the region and president of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mehbooba Mufti, termed the visit “event management by the BJP government”.

“It is a guided tour for which they selected people for the meetings. It’s not like whoever wants to talk can go.”

Mufti said the purpose of the visit appeared “to show the sense of normalcy in Kashmir”.

“We are not being allowed to meet families of victims of human rights violations. This is artificial and a facade.”

On Thursday, envoys met with Chief Justice of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Justice Pankaj Mithal and Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha in the Jammu.