Norway’s ambassador to India joins a delegation of diplomats visiting Kashmir this week, local authorities said. The EU will not join the trip.
Diplomats from 15 countries, including ambassadors from the US, South Korea, Bangladesh and Vietnam, are part of the group, said an official in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The diplomats are expected to meet civil society representatives and local authorities, including Governor GC Murmu.
None of the EU countries’ ambassadors are part of the group. Several Indian media outlets have reported that EU diplomats were not happy with the scheme, especially because they are not allowed to meet imprisoned politicians.
“The EU representatives will not have a guided tour in Kashmir. We want to be free to meet those we choose,” says a European source in the diplomatic service to the TV channel NDTV. According to The Hindu newspaper, EU diplomats are particularly interested in meeting three former ministers, who are now imprisoned.
A source in the diplomatic service told the AFP news agency that the EU is in contact with the Indian Foreign Ministry and wants to visit Kashmir at a later date.
The trip the Norwegian ambassador is on is the first with foreign diplomats in the disputed region since India’s government in August withdrew the region’s special status and imposed restrictions on travel and communication. India has been heavily criticized for its conduct.
Several of the restrictions have since been lifted, but the region is still without internet. There is a large military presence, and hundreds of politicians are still imprisoned. Foreign journalists have not entered the area since August.
The two-day ambassador visit this week is seen as a way to extend a diplomatic hand.
Disputed and shared
Kashmir, located in the border area between India and Pakistan, has been disputed since the two countries gained their independence from Britain in 1947. The region is the only one in India where Muslim residents are majority.
There have been several armed conflicts between the two neighboring countries over Kashmir, and the region is in practice divided into two – one controlled by India and one controlled by Pakistan. In the Indian part there has been a separatist uprising since the 1980s.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today