Around 15 foreign envoys to tour Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday; EU envoys next 

WION New Delhi Jan 08, 2020, 11.05 PM(IST) Written By: Ieshan Bashir Wani , Sidhant Sibal Edited By: Judy Franko

File photo: An Indian security force personnel patrols in Kashmir. Photograph:( Reuters )

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WION had first broken the story on Tuesday evening with the dates of the visit.

India is all set to take around 15 foreign envoys to the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday.

Confirming the development, a source told WION, "a group of 15 envoys based in Delhi are being taken to the UT of Jammu and Kashmir on 9-10 January to see first-hand the efforts being made by the government to bring the situation to normal."

WION first broke the story on Tuesday evening with the dates of the visit.

The ministry of external affairs had been receiving requests from envoys for a visit to Kashmir and the government source said, "Our consistent position has been that we may consider the request only after analyzing the security situation and checking the on-ground situation with the J&K Administration".

While envoys of Latin America, ASEAN and Africa will be going, envoys of the European Union are expected to go on a later date. 

One EU envoy to WION on why they could not attend foreign envoy's Kashmir visit said, "It was communicated with very short notice and the majority of us need to get the agreement of our authorities." adding, "In any case, we are still discussing with MEA"

Government sources said that EU envoys have welcomed the initiative by the government and select EU envoys were invited since the aim was to keep the group broad-based. 

Asked, if any envoy had asked to meet anyone detained, the government source said, "no specific request was made and the group was free to interact with people subject to security considerations"

Australia is not able to be part of foreign envoy's Kashmir visit since they are preparing for the Aussie FM's India visit. Same stands true for another Asian country, whose delegation is in the town.

The visit by foreign envoys comes even as criticisms over India keeping the region cut off. Kashmir woke up to a new year of freedom on January 1 as SMS services were restored across the valley from midnight on Tuesday, i.e. on December 31. The news is being seen as a welcome measure in restoring freedoms for the Kashmiris as normalcy returns gradually in the valley. Earlier on October 14, postpaid mobile services were also restored. 

Last October, India took the European Union Parliamentarians to the union territory of Kashmir. It was the first such visit by an international delegation post-abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. The visit by the members of the European Parliament had come at a time when the Centre was making efforts to restore normalcy in the region.