Mumbai - Swedish King Carl Gustaf has said that his country has been acting as an observer in occupied Kashmir for the past several years and will continue to do so.

The king made the remarks while talking to a group of journalists in the Indian city of Mumbai. The statement came in response to questions about Sweden acting as mediator to resolve the decades-long issue.

The comments by the king follow similar remarks made by Swedish foreign ministry on the eve of the king’s visit to India, calling for the lifting of curfew and the restoration of communications.

“We can say we have people from Sweden, trying to be observers in these areas in Kashmir for many many years. In that sense, we are trying to be an observer if possible,” King Gustaf said.

The king also noted that the mandate of United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), of which Sweden was a part, was too constrained for an in-depth analysis of the situation.

Asked if any offer for mediation by Sweden to resolve the Kashmir dispute was discussed when he met the Indian leadership in Delhi, he declined to answer, citing a policy of not commenting on political issues.

It is to mention here that Sweden’s Foreign Minister, Ann Linde, in her address in Riksdag or the Swedish Parliament last week said “We emphasise the importance of respect for human rights, that an escalation of the situation in Kashmir is avoided and that a long-term political solution to the situation must involve Kashmir’s inhabitants.”

“Dialogue between India and Pakistan is crucial,” she added.

The Swedish king and his wife are on a five-day visit to India. The royal couple met Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Governor BS Koshyari.

He termed his visit as ‘interesting’ so far, and added that there is a lot of scope for India and Sweden to work together.

King Carl Gustaf met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and representatives of the industry in Delhi.

Climate change is a very important issue for his country, he said, adding that solutions can be ‘difficult’ politically, and it would be good if specific industries worked on improving their functioning to make themselves more sustainable.

Queen Silvia, his wife, spoke about the Royal couple’s visit to the Versova seafront Wednesday morning where they took part in a beach clean-up initiative. “It was fascinating because we have only seen photographs of plastic and the sea. Now we could see what the sea does to plastic,” she said.

IOK PEOPLE LOSE WHATSAPP ACCOUNTS

The Kashmir Valley and Muslim majority areas of Jammu and Ladakh regions of occupied Kashmir continue to simmer with anger amid continued suspension of Internet services and military lockdown of the territory.

Over eight million residents of the Valley are particularly bearing the brunt of the lockdown, which entered 124th running day, Friday. The continued absence of mobile phone, SMS and Internet services has cut off people even from their surroundings. It has also badly affected businesses, education of students and working of journalists.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp accounts belonging to Kashmiris expired this week for remaining inactive for over 120 days due to the continued ban on internet services in the Valley. The accounts expired due to a policy of Facebook, which owns the messaging platform. Under the said policy, Whatsapp accounts which remain inactive for 120 days are deleted, automatically. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the deletion of WhatsApp accounts of the Kashmiris was indeed due to the aforementioned policy.