VISITING ENVOYS of 24 countries on Thursday met a delegation of newly elected members of District Development Councils (DDC) and panchayats, refugees and members of Valmiki Samaj, who conveyed to them that they were comfortable with the Union Territory status for Jammu and Kashmir, and the changes in their lives after abrogation of Article 370.
The envoys from European, Latin American and African countries are on a two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir to assess the ground situation in the Union Territory following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. They also met Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday.
The delegation that met the envoys, however, did not include any one from opposition parties such as National Conference, Congress, Panthers Party, Apni Party and the CPI(M).
Congress chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said they did not receive any invitation. “Had we been invited, we might have met the envoys and conveyed them our assessment of ground situation,’’ he said, adding that the Congress being a responsible party would have kept national interest in mind despite being critical of the BJP government.
Jammu DDC chairman Bharat Bushan, a senior BJP leader, said the envoys mostly asked them about the maiden DDC and Block Development Council elections and the voters’ response. Everyone said development was the main agenda in these polls, he added.
Jammu DDC vice-chairperson Suraj Singh, who is also from the BJP, told the envoys voters were enthusiastic during the DDC elections as they felt that these would bring them development and nowhere anybody asked for restoration of Article 370 or statehood.
Valmiki Samaj representative Akash Kumar told the envoys that after Article 370, the biggest change in their lives was that they became domicile of Jammu and Kashmir and they were allowed to cast their votes in the DDC polls. They can now buy property and apply for government jobs in the UT, he said.
Earlier in the day, the envoys met Lt Governor Sinha and Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.
The Lt Governor told them about the establishment of an ecosystem of democratic values, welfare principles and economic development in Jammu and Kashmir, adding that several measures are being taken by the government for development and prosperity of the UT.
In a vote of thanks, Eritrea Ambassador Alem Tsehaye Woldermariam said, “Change is visible in Jammu and Kashmir.”
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