Visit by envoys was to enable them to see J-K's march on path of development: MEA

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The visit by 24 foreign envoys to Jammu and Kashmir was aimed at enabling them to witness the union territory's march on the path of inclusive development and the dynamism in the grassroots democratic institutions following the successful conduct of the recent local polls, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday.

The comments by MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava came at the end of the two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir by the envoys.

Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, two groups of envoys had visited Jammu and Kashmir.

'The idea behind facilitating these visits was to enable Foreign Heads of Missions to get a better sense of the ground situation and the prevailing normalcy in the union territory,' Srivastava said, replying to a media query.

'Subsequently, there has been an enhanced interest in the ongoing political and democratic process, including strengthening of grassroots democracy in Jammu and Kashmir,' he said.

'The present visit by the third group of Foreign Heads of Missions, is in this context, to allow foreign envoys to witness, first-hand, Jammu and Kashmir's march on the path of inclusive development and the dynamism in the grassroots democratic institutions,' he added.

The group comprised envoys from Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cote d'Ivore, Cuba, Estonia, Finland, European Union, Eritrea, France, Ghana, Italy, Ireland, Kyrgyz Republic, Malaysia, Malawi, Netherlands, Portugal, Senegal, Spain, Sweden and Tajikistan.

On Wednesday, the group visited Srinagar and Budgam.

'Yesterday, the group visited Magam in Budgam district of Central Kashmir and participated in 'Block Diwas', a grassroots level democratic outreach initiative organised regularly by the local administration in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of efforts to promote good governance,' Srivastava said.

'The interaction at the Block Diwas event provided the envoys an opportunity to hear directly from the general public and local level people's representatives on the functioning of empowered grassroots democratic institutions, devolution of power and developmental activities,' he added.

In Srinagar, Srivastava said they had a very fruitful interaction with the elected representatives of the Urban Local Bodies, District Development Councils (DDC) and the Block Development Councils (BDC) from all the districts of the Kashmir Division representing various regional and national political parties.

The group also visited the famous Hazratbal Shrine, the holiest and most revered mosque in Srinagar frequented by scores of locals for mass prayers.

Both in Srinagar and Jammu, the group interacted with representatives from civil society, including youth from different ethnic, religious and socio-economic communities, local business and political leaders, civil administration and representatives of mainstream media, Srivastava said.

'Today, the group of envoys visited the Chinar Corps headquarters in Srinagar, where they received a briefing on the prevailing security situation, including external threats, in Jammu and Kashmir and on the initiatives of the J-K Police relating to community policing and engagement,' he said.

The group also visited Jammu and met the Chief Justice of Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, the J-K Lt Governor, other senior officials and members of the civil society.

'During the interaction, the Chief Justice highlighted the role played by the judiciary in enhancing access to the legal system for the common people in Jammu and Kashmir, including to preserve rule of law and protect the rights of the people,' the MEA spokesperson said. PTI MPB KJ