Philippines Ambassador to India said that the condition in Kashmir is normal. He said that the markets are open and people are out on the streets. Ramon Bagatsing said that he finds no difference between the pre-abrogation and post-abrogation period in Kashmir. He also said that there is peace and everything is normal in the valley

New Delhi: Talking to Times Now about his visit to Kashmir as a part of the delegation that went to the Valley to assess the ground situation, Philippines Ambassador to India, Ramon S Bagatsing, said, “Well this was a really nice visit to Kashmir. Maybe its the first official visit to Kashmir but I was there a week before the abrogation of Article 370 and so there was a comparison of what I saw and pre-abrogation and post-abrogation was basically the same. The people were out on the streets, the markets were open, the traffic was there and everything to me looked very very normal. “

He, while expressing his happiness about having learnt a lot during his trip, said, “Now this is an official trip and I found it very informative because Kashmir had a meeting with a cross-section of people. We had meetings with the military, a group that consisted of the civil society leaders and some of them were students. And then we had meetings with some of the political leaders. And by and large, it was a very learning experience. It was an eye-opener of sorts.”

While talking about the conditions prevailing in Kashmir and what he observed was told during his trip, he said, “During the military briefing, the issue they touched the most was on the lines of control between Pakistan and India. There were questions about whether there was a cross over when 370 came about, were there preparations, extra precautions. And from what they told us, apart from their first two or three weeks, there were rallies, there were protests but the police were on the top of the situation and the military did not intervene. And after a month or so, the demonstrations dissipated.”

He also negated the idea of being an official tour and talked about the various core areas that are being focused in the Valley. He said, “I don’t know what you mean by a guided tour. We had meetings, if that’s what you call guided but walking around, observing the city - that was not guided. What I found out was that they are more concerned about peace and development. They’re focusing on students issues and more schools, about having quality education, about the Internet - which is an issue of all sectors actually and having a chance to improve the lives and be prepared to be a part and a parcel of the society. This was the sentiment that I heard.”