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Foreign envoys wasting time on Kashmir junket

February 14, 2020 11:24 IST
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'If the envoys are satisfied, it will either mean they are naive or that they are not serious about their trip, which they probably regard as some kind of a picnic, a much-needed break from their dreary routine in Delhi,' notes Amulya Ganguli.

IMAGE: Security personnel maintain a vigil as foreign ambassadors take a cruise on Srinagar's scenic Dal Lake. Photograph: Umar Ganie for

Winter is not the best time to go to Kashmir.

But if you are being given a free ride by the government, why blame the cold?

It is odd, however, that the government is choosing the wintry months to escort the foreign ambassadors around the Union territory.

There have been two such groups in recent months which have gone to what the Mughals called a heaven on earth.

Is winter the chosen season for the junkets to ensure that the visitors will ascribe the largely deserted streets to the weather?

In any event, as the envoys enjoy their shikara rides on the picturesque Dal lake, taking pictures of the surroundings, attending sumptuous meals and conversing with the lieutenant governor and the army top brass, is there anyone among them who will wonder about the unreality of it all?

For, if their intention is to ascertain the reality of the conditions in Kashmir, they are likely to fail.

Instead, they will get a distorted picture which the authorities will try to pass off as the real one.

Since the envoys are on a closely monitored tour, they will not meet any of the locals on their own: Only those who have been carefully chosen by the government after being vetted for their reliability.

They also probably know the consequences of deviating from the script in their conversations.

It is because the envoys will not be allowed to go out without a police escort to talk with the locals that some of them had opted out of an earlier guided tour.

If the subsequent trippers have been less squeamish, it is presumably because they do not want to let go of the opportunity of an all-expenses paid trip even if the reports which they will submit to their respective governments afterwards will not tell the truth about the situation in Kashmir.

It is unclear of what use such reports will be to anyone.

When the government escorted the East European members of the European parliament to Kashmir, one of them had said that the Indian MPs should also be allowed to visit the Union territory.

The government did not take that advice.

Nor has it cared to release any of the three jailed former chief ministers and a number of activists apparently because they pose a grave danger to Kashmir and the nation.

The envoys, of course, will not be allowed to meet any of them.

The answers they will get if they ask about them are known -- that these are dangerous people whose place is behind bars.

For how long?

That depends on whether they give a written undertaking that they will not say anything, let alone indulge in political activity, if they are let off.

If the envoys are satisfied with the response, it will either mean that they are naive or that they are not serious about their trip, which they probably regard as some kind of a picnic, a much-needed break from their dreary routine in Delhi.

In either case, it will underline their lack of professionalism.

Any report which they send back home will be fit for the wastepaper basket.

Amulya Ganguli is a writer on current affairs

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