India hosting G20 tourism meet in Kashmir amid tight security
A G20 meeting on tourism began on Monday amid tight security in Indian-administered Kashmir, which has been condemned by China and Pakistan for being held in the disputed region.
The G20 meeting should be held for three days on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar.
Now India is promoting tourism in Kashmir with its spectacular mountain views. Signs at the airport welcome tourists to ‘Heaven on Earth’. Last year more than one million Indians visited there.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, who, since their independence in 1947, have claimed sovereignty over the entirety of this predominantly Muslim Himalayan region. He was the cause of two of the three wars that have pitted him ever since.
The Indian-administered part has seen over three decades of unrest, which has claimed thousands of lives.
Indian representative to the G20 Amitabh Kant said, “Kashmir is a very peaceful destination.” “There peace, progress and prosperity are visible”.
– “go ahead” –
According to Indian Minister of Science and Technology Jitendra Singh, in the past Islamabad would have called for a general strike in response to this G20-like event, “and shops in Srinagar would have closed”.
But today, people “go about their business”, greeted the minister at the opening of the meeting, “The man in the street of Srinagar wants to move forward today. He has seen two generations lost at the altar of these incompatible ages.”
Police last week warned that “security was tightened at vulnerable spots to avoid any risk of terrorist attack during the G20 meeting”, in the area since New Delhi took it under its control in 2019. This is the first diplomatic incident.
According to a senior official who requested anonymity, hundreds of people have been detained at police stations and thousands, including shopkeepers, have received calls from the authorities, warning them against any “protest or sign of trouble”. given.
G20 member China has warned it will not attend the event, and no delegations are expected from Turkey or Saudi Arabia.
Two Indian government ministers are attending, but many Western countries have sent only local diplomatic personnel.
“Does the Modi government think that tourism can be promoted in closed conference halls, next to a beautiful lake where marine commandos patrol and surveillance drones overhead?” Interviewed journalist Bharat Bhushan in Dainik Deccan Herald.
“Such dramas clearly show that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) is far from normal,” he said.
Since the revocation of the semi-autonomy of Indian Kashmir, the separatist insurgency has been largely crushed, although youths are joining in.
The Anti-Fascist Popular Front, a separatist group that emerged in Kashmir after 2019, issued a statement on Monday condemning the meeting in Kashmir and threatened to “deploy suicide bombers”. “Today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It will come,” he said.
Troops and armored vehicles were deployed across Srinagar on Monday.
But several checkpoints were dismantled overnight and some paramilitary police remained confined behind G20 billboards, trying to reduce their visibility.
– “Influenced by terrorists” –
To travel to Kashmir, foreign journalists have to obtain special permission from the Indian government, which is usually denied.
But permits have been issued to the foreign press, valid only for coverage of the G20 meeting and restricted to Srinagar.
Holders of these permits are not required to “spread anti-India narratives” and visit “terrorist-infested places without prior permission”.
India holds the presidency of the G20 for 2023 and has over 100 meetings scheduled in the country.
Beijing considers Kashmir a disputed territory.
Pakistan, which is not a G20 member but controls a small part of Kashmir, said hosting the meeting there violates international law, UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements.
Last week, the UN special envoy on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, ruled that the New Delhi G20 meeting “must be condemned and condemned” for a status as “an international seal of approval”. Was making “means”. His comments were rejected by India.