Days after the conclusion of the District Development Council (DDC) polls in J&K, a group of foreign envoys is due to visit the newly created Union Territory this week. This will be the third visit of envoys, including from European Union, since the scrapping of the special status of J&K in August 2019.
The proposed visit will also come on the heels of the Centre restoring 4G mobile and internet services. The US has already welcomed the move, saying while there was no change in its South Asia policy, it looked forward to “continued political and economic progress” to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir.
Media reports said the diplomats, besides visiting Srinagar, would also travel to Jammu for a series of meetings with top officials and politicians in the Union Territory.
The envoys could interact with newly appointed chairmen and deputy chairmen of the new DDCs, panchayat members as well as members of civil society.
Media reports quoting sources said it was not clear whether the envoys would meet leaders of regional parties, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party and others.
On Sunday, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah claimed in a tweet that he and his family, including his father and MP Farooq Abdullah, have been put under house arrest. In another tweet, he alleged that his house staff was not being allowed to go inside his residence. However, the police said in a statement that the movements of “VIPs/protected persons have been discouraged” due to the anniversary of the 2019 Pulwama attack.
On Saturday, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti had also alleged that she was stopped from visiting the family of Athar Mushtaq, who was killed on December 30, and was placed under house arrest.
While speaking in the Lok Sabha on Saturday (February 13), Home Minister Amit Shah said Jammu and Kashmir will be given statehood “at an appropriate time.” His reply came during a Lok Sabha discussion on the J&K Reorganization (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
Responding to claims that the Centre had no intention of restoring statehood, Shah said he had “clarified the intentions” of the Bill. “Many MPs said bringing the amendment means J&K won’t get statehood. I am piloting the Bill, I brought it. I have clarified the intentions. Nowhere is it written that Jammu and Kashmir won’t get statehood. Where are you drawing this conclusion from?” Shah questioned the Opposition.