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European Union hopes for early Jammu and Kashmir assembly polls

The European Union hopes an early election to the legislative assembly in Jammu and Kashmir will be held. The EU ambassador to India and several of its member states were among those who visited Jammu and Kashmir recently. The visit organised by the Centre included meetings with civil and military authorities, political representatives and select representatives of civil society.

“We have taken note of recent steps such as election to District Development Councils and the resumption of 4G internet services,” an EU spokesperson told ET. The right to freedom of expression online and offline is a key value for all democracies, the spokesperson said. “We look forward to a number of other important steps to be taken in the political and economic sphere, including early organisation of legislative assembly elections. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with India on this,” the spokesperson said.

Envoys from Sweden, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Estonia were part of the team. Irish ambassador Brendan Ward told ET that he got an overview of the Union Territory and would like to be back there for a relaxed touristic trip. Ward expressed satisfaction with the briefing by senior officials on the ground as well as security situation.

A senior envoy from India’s neighbourhood who was part of the team said “the briefing by the chief secretary as well as Chinar Corps Commander was hugely impressive and gave envoys a thorough idea about the ground situation and security, including threat perceptions. We also got a good sense from the elected representatives whom we met.”