European diplomats check India's loosening of Kashmir clampdown

Foreign envoys Jammu Jammu and Kashmir Srinagar Pakistan LoC Tahir Qadiry Kashmir Kashmiri Pandits Article 370 Ladakh Baramulla

They were unable to fly to Baramulla due to bad weather

"Hundreds of Kashmiris remain in "preventive detention", including key political figures", they said.

Tarigami, a four-time MLA from Kashmir, had been put under house arrest immediately after the Centre had ended Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5 previous year. "Undoubtedly, the valley has a lot of potential for boosting tourism", said Tahir Qadiry, the envoy from Afghanistan who tweeted a number of pictures.

During their two-day stay in J&K, the diplomats will also travel to Jammu, where they will meet Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu and civil society groups.

The government has invoked the PSA, which allows detention without trial for up to two years, against many Valley politicians, including former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status.

The PSA was invoked against Omar because of his "considerable influence" and ability to draw voters to polling booths.

Representatives from several countries, including Germany's ambassador Walter Lindner, were pictured on a traditional wooden shikara boat on Dal Lake, in occupied Kashmir's main city of Srinagar.

Likening Jammu and Kashmir to Tihar jail, Tarigami and Yechury said at the media conference that the region "cannot have a Shaheen Bagh as there can not be a Shaheen Bagh in Tihar jail".

He said the envoys will be apprised of the ground situation in J&K.

"As a part of the outreach efforts, visit of a second group of foreign Heads of Mission is being organised...."

He added, "Taking them on shikara rides on the Dal lake and allowing them to meet only people handpicked by the government agencies are not going to help". I just wanted to see how things are here. That is why I am here.

Meanwhile, three youth who belonged to little-known group, Kashmir Youth Power, were detained by the police when they flashed placards and termed "envoys' visit as wastage of money".

In the letter, the Senators requested Pompeo for a State Department assessment of a number of issues in India including the number of individuals detained by the government for political purposes and their treatment; current restrictions on communications in Jammu and Kashmir; current accessibility of Jammu and Kashmir; and restrictions on religious freedoms in Jammu and Kashmir. Last month 15 foreign envoys visited European Union parliament - a trip participants characterised as tightly-choreographed with no room for independent meetings. Ambassador of the Dominican Republic Frank Hans Dannenberg Castellanos said he was visiting Kashmir as a tourist. The demand for statehood, restoration of internet, development dominated the discourse during the envoy's meet with civil society in Srinagar. Another former chief minister and sitting MP from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, was detained under the stringent law in September past year.

Even now, more than six months after the law was changed, the government is yet to restore the internet fully in the Valley. The authorities have resumed only 2G internet services on mobiles and people have access to only 305 white-listed websites.

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