Shutdown in Srinagar as foreign delegation arrives to ‘assess ground situation’

Shutdown in Srinagar as foreign delegation arrives to ‘assess ground situation’

5 bunkers removed in Srinagar a day before, envoys regaled with Kashmiri wanwun at Degree College Magam

Srinagar: A spontaneous, shutdown greeted the 20-member European-African delegation on Wednesday when it arrived in Kashmir to “assess the ground situation” post the conduct of district development elections. Before their arrival, the administration had removed at least five bunkers from many areas of Srinagar city. Police said it was part of measures to remove traffic snarls.
Eyewitnesses said that all the main markets in Srinagar remained shut while there was thin movement of traffic on the roads.
The call for a shutdown was not given by any political party. It was organised through word of mouth with the message that Kashmir has to remain shut to show the envoys what the public sentiment is.

Closed markets in Srinagar’s downtown area on Wednesday. Photo: Faisal Khan

When a delegation of foreign envoys was brought to Kashmir by the Government of India post the abrogation of Article 370, then, too, the Valley had remained shut. No shutdown call was given at that time, too.
The delegation arrived before noon, drove to the Government Degree College Magam where they were welcomed by the recently elected DDC chairman, Nazir Khan, and others. Kashmiri wanwun (traditional singing style) was also played upon their arrival. They also travelled to Hazratal shrine in Srinagar. A fleet of security vehicles guarded the cavalcade of the envoys.
It was the third visit of a foreign delegation to the Valley on the invitation of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, (GoI) post the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir. The delegates were 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 and Kyrgyzstan.
On Thursday the envoys will mostly be travelling in Jammu. In Kashmir they are most likely to meet officials from the administration, police and army.
Just before their visit, several bunkers were removed from the capital city. One of them was the three-decade-old CRPF bunker in Barzulla area, where the cavalcade had to pass through. Another one was removed from Rajbagh and a third from Zaina Kadal.
Also, a day before the visit, the police arrested Chairman of International Forum for Justice and Human Rights (IFJHRJK), Muhammad Ahsan Untoo, in Srinagar. He was lodged in the Rajbagh Police Station for the night.
Former chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti termed the visit of the foreign delegation as routine.
“The delegations come and go but the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is not good,” she said.
Former minister Saifuddin Soz said that the foreign envoys’ visit was part of a futile exercise in public relations by the Govt of India. “It is really unfortunate that the Govt of India has not learnt any lesson from its past mistakes. Masters have rightly said that if the people do not learn a lesson from their mistakes, they are bound to repeat these mistakes, time and again,” Soz said.


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