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EU for swift end to all curbs in Kashmir

The European Union (EU) has called for swift removal of communication and political restrictions in Kashmir. The organisation was in touch with the Indian authorities for continuing dialogue regarding the situation in Kashmir, a spokesperson for the EU said.

“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 are lifted swiftly”, said Virginie Battu-Henriksson, EU Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The statement was issued a day after a delegation of 25 diplomats that included the EU Ambassador to India Ugo Astuto and several other European envoys visited Kashmir and Jammu from February 12 to 13. The delegation was not part of the earlier team of diplomats that visited Kashmir in January as they had insisted on meeting jailed political leaders.

However, two former Chief Ministers of the erstwhile State - Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti -- were booked under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) days before the latest diplomatic delegation visited Kashmir. A diplomatic source earlier told The Hindu that they interacted with diverse sections of the Kashmiri civil society and witnessed heavy security presence in Srinagar where the threat of terror attacks persist, six months after India ended the special status of the region.

“The visit confirmed that the Government of India has taken positive steps to restore normalcy...The visit presented a welcome opportunity to see the situation on the ground and to interact with local interlocutors”, said the EU spokesperson.

In recent months, India's relation with the EU has been marked by growing concern of the powerful regional body over the Kashmir situation, the controversial new Indian citizenship law and National Register of Citizens. In January, 626 of the 751 members of the EU Parliament took up six resolutions for discussion but ultimately postponed a vote on the matters till coming spring.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Brussels in March for the next EU-India summit.