French Ambassador to India Emmanuel Lenain, who was among the 25 foreign envoys who were taken to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) earlier this week, said on Saturday that while the authorities were making “significant efforts” to “normalise the situation”, the remaining restrictions should be removed “as soon as possible”.
His comments came a day after similar remarks by EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson, who said that “while we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly.”
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Lenain said: “This trip was important because, as an Ambassador, I need to see the situation with my own eyes in order to make an assessment as objective as possible. It was useful to be able to interact directly with local authorities, and also with some parts of the civil society, local media and business community.”
“It is obvious that significant efforts are being made by the authorities to normalise the situation and move on swiftly towards economic development, for which the population has very high expectations. It implies removing as soon as possible the remaining restrictions, even though the security challenges were made very clear,” he said.
Lenain, who presented his credentials in October last year, was part of the second batch of foreign envoys who were taken to J&K by the government, after J&K’s special status under Article 370 was revoked and the state was bifurcated into two Union territories last August.
On Friday, EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Virginie Battu-Henriksson had said that the EU Ambassador to India, along with some ambassadors of EU member states, had accepted the invitation extended by the Government of India to visit Srinagar and Jammu, on February 12-13.
The programme of the visit included meetings with civil and military authorities, political representatives and selected representatives of civil society and the business community, she said.
“The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy. Some restrictions remain, notably on internet access and mobile services, and some political leaders are still in detention. While we recognise the serious security concerns, it is important that the remaining restrictions be lifted swiftly. The visit presented a welcome opportunity to see the situation on the ground and to interact with local interlocutors. We look forward to continuing the dialogue with India on the situation in the region,” she said.
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