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Situation of Kashmiris Unsustainable and Must Improve: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on India Visit

Merkel was responding to a question on how the German government saw the lockdown in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 in August.

Uday Singh Rana | CNN-News18@UdaySRana

Updated:November 1, 2019, 11:50 PM IST
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Situation of Kashmiris Unsustainable and Must Improve: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on India Visit
Merkel was responding to a question on how the German government saw the lockdown in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 in August.

New Delhi: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday expressed concern over the situation in the Kashmir Valley and its implications on the people.

Interacting with German journalists who travelled with her delegation to New Delhi, Merkel said the situation was "not sustainable and good", adding that the ground situation in the Valley "needs to change for sure".

Merkel was responding to a question on how the German government saw the lockdown in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 in August. The press interaction took place in the evening, just ahead of a dinner hosted on the occasion of her visit.

"The situation at the moment (for the people of Kashmir) is not sustainable and good. This has to change for sure," Merkel told the German press corps when asked about the situation there.

According to a report in Reuters news agency, Merkel said she would raise the matter with Modi later on Friday evening. She added that while she was aware of India's position regarding Kashmir, parts of which are claimed by Pakistan, she wanted to hear Modi's plans for restoring calm to the region.

Merkel's comments come amidst concerns expressed by some foreign lawmakers, including from the United States, over restrictions imposed by the government after the abrogation of Article 370.

Ahead of Merkel's visit, Walter J Lindner, the German Ambassador to India, was asked on Wednesday whether the Kashmir situation would come up in discussions between the two leaders. "The two leaders have a very good relationship and you can trust that they can talk about any issue they put on the table," Lindner had said.

The erstwhile state has been under a virtual lockdown since the BJP-led central government's decision in August to revoke the special status by abrogating Article 370.

Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated on Thursday into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — in accordance with the government's August 5 announcement revoking the state's special status.

The India-Pakistan relationship has deteriorated since Kashmir's special status was scrapped. While Pakistan has been attempting to internationalist the issue, India has maintained its an internal matter.

Merkel and Modi on Friday co-chaired the fifth round of Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC). Merkel was accompanied by the German ministers of foreign affairs, science and education, food and agriculture, and an official Delegation. A business delegation comprising leaders of German companies have also accompanied Merkel. Merkel also held meetings with President Ram Nath Kovind and Modi.

After their extensive delegation-level talks, the two leaders held a 'restricted meeting' at Modi's official residence in the presence of select ministers and officials from both the sides. Among those present at the meeting were External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale from the Indian side.

Merkel on Friday also met five women, including senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi and Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy, said sources. She also met YourStory founder Shradha Sharma, Brookings India director of research Shamika Ravi and Natasha Zarine.

Atishi, who played a pivotal role in revamping the state of education in government-run schools in Delhi, said Merkel discussed the challenges faced by women in India during the meeting.

Nundy said she met Merkel over breakfast with four Indian women doing great work. "Her courageous politics politics -- on refugees, the EU and climate change for instance -- and repeated reelections after have been truly inspiring," the lawyer said in a tweet.

Merkel on Saturday will meet business community figures and also visit a German company's facility in Manesar near Gurugram.

(With inputs from agencies)

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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