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EU lawmakers team to visit Kashmir today

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, Oct 28 - In the first visit by a foreign delegation to Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, a group of 27 European lawmakers will travel there on Tuesday, a major diplomatic outreach initiative by the government to counter Pakistan�s narrative on the situation in the valley by allowing these leaders to �see things for themselves�.

Ahead of their two-day Kashmir visit, these Members of European Parliamentarians (MEPs) also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who categorically told them that an urgent action was needed against those supporting and sponsoring terrorism and asserted that there should be zero tolerance for terrorism.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Monday briefed these MEPs on cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan, constitutional changes made in the status of Jammu and Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370 and the situation in the valley.

Doval also hosted a lunch for the European lawmakers. Those present also included some Kashmiri leaders, including former deputy chief minister of J&K Muzaffar Baig, former People�s Democratic Party (PDP) leader Altaf Bukhari, some newly-elected Block Development Council (BDC) members in the state as also Sandeep Chattoo, co-owner of Real Kashmir Football Club.

This is the first visit by a foreign delegation to the valley after the government abrogated Article 370 in August and comes barely weeks after the European Parliament plenary debate on the situation in Kashmir, during which High Representative/Vice-President expressed concern over the situation there.

�We remain concerned about the situation on the ground, with its restrictions on fundamental freedoms. It is crucial that freedom of movement and means of communication are fully restored as well as access to all essential services.

�The High Representative conveyed these concerns to the Indian Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, during their meeting in Brussels on 30 August,�said Tytti Tuppurainen, Finnish Minister for European Affairs on behalf of High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on September 18.

However, officials here feel the visit will provide an opportunity to these lawmakers to �see things for themselves� instead of falling prey to Pakistan�s �false narrative�.

As per sources, the delegation will meet J&K administration officials and locals in the valley. During the two-day visit, they are also likely to call on the Governor and interact with the media.

The delegation includes Italy�s Fulvio Martusciello, UK�s David Richard Bull, Italy�s Gianna Gancia, France�s Julie Lechanteux, Czech Republic�s Tomas Zdechovsky, Slovakia�s Peter Pollak and Germany�s Nicolas Fest. � PTI

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