Srinagar decked up for G-20 working group meeting; security heightened

Elite NSG and Marine Commandos are helping the police and the paramilitary forces to secure the venues of the G20 working group meeting in Srinagar, the officials said.

May 21, 2023 03:56 pm | Updated 07:31 pm IST - Srinagar

Security personnel patrols the area during the high alert on the eve of the G20 summit, in Srinagar on May 21, 2023.

Security personnel patrols the area during the high alert on the eve of the G20 summit, in Srinagar on May 21, 2023. | Photo Credit: ANI

Amid unprecedented security drills, the three-day G-20 working group meeting on tourism has attracted global attention for being held in J&K’s summer capital Srinagar, in the backdrop of China, a G-20 member, and non-member Pakistan, expressing their reservations and objections over the venue’s location.

Such an international meeting with Kashmir as a venue is a first in more than three decades and also the first since the Centre ended J&K’s special semi-autonomous status in 2019. Earlier, several foreign envoys were allowed to visit J&K in 2020 and 2021, at least four times, to have a firsthand account of the situation in Kashmir after the dilution of Article 370 and downgrading of J&K from a State to two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

However, the scale of this event is by far the biggest. It saw UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues Fernand de Varennes issue a statement criticizing the move by India to hold such a meeting in J&K. The statement was countered by India, saying it was an attempt to “politicise the issue”. There is still a question mark over the participation of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the main countries running the Muslim bloc, Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which advocates a dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the Kashmir issue.

J&K: Security beefed up in Jammu ahead of G-20 meeting | Video Credit: ANI

However, the presence of delegates from the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States will come as a shot in the arm for the Centre, which is working hard to “establish peace” in J&K and end the decades long separatist movement in the region.

“The arrival of guests has commenced and we are all set to host the event. There will be group discussions of local and international speakers. I believe the event will help revive the economy of J&K and its vast potential of tourism. The event will help give a big push to J&K’s sustainable tourism, adventure tourism, film and eco-tourism,” Harsh Vardhan Shringla, the Chief Coordinator of the G-20 event in Srinagar, said.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the G-20’s tourism working group meeting “is a historic opportunity for 13 million citizens of J&K UT to showcase priceless culture, heritage, tourism and warm hospitality”.

“Such gathering will provide a huge boost to the shared vision of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam globally and accelerate socio-economic development of Jammu Kashmir,” L-G Sinha said. “It is our resolve to build a new ‘Atma Nirbhar’ J&K in this ‘Amrit Kaal’. This historic occasion of the G20 meeting will inspire the generations of J&K and infuse new enthusiasm, new confidence in the society to build future Jammu Kashmir,” he added.

With intelligence agencies fearing attacks by militants in the Union Territory (UT) because of the online anti-G20 campaign run by some of the outfits, security has been beefed up and an unprecedented security drill carried out in the past one week in J&K. Elite commandos of the National Security Group and MARCOS, of the navy, will join the J&K Police and CRPF to maintain a vigil during the delegates tour of Kashmir.

Lt. Gen. Upendra Dwivedi, the Army’s General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command, has assessed security on the Line of Control (LoC) in the Pir Panjal valley and frontier district of Kashmir valley. He visited the forward posts near the Line of Control in Uri and Keran Sectors on Saturday “to review the security measures adopted, as a lead up to the G20 meet”. He exhorted the troops to maintain the highest state of readiness to meet all contingencies, a Srinagar-based Army spokesman said.

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