G20 summit Srinagar
G20 delegates arrive at Srinagar airport to a traditional welcome on Monday | Pic: Twitter/Ministry of Tourism

Amid multi-layered security, Srinagar kick-starts G20 tourism meet

Around 60 foreign delegates arrived in Srinagar, the troubled summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday (May 22) morning for the third G20 Tourism Working Group meeting amid a boycott by China and a couple of other countries.

The three-day summit is the first international meeting being held in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh — in August 2019.

The delegates arrived in a chartered flight at the Srinagar international airport in the morning amid tight security, said officials. They were taken to the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), the venue of the meeting, amid heavy deployment of security personnel along the route. Officials said the largest number of delegates are from Singapore.

What’s on agenda

On the agenda are green tourism, digitalization, skills, MSMEs, and destination management. The foreign delegates will later go to the markets of Srinagar and will be introduced to the arts and crafts of Jammu and Kashmir.

G20 Chief Coordinator Harsh Vardhan Shringla said Srinagar has gone through a massive makeover and developmental works in the past few years. The G20 Tourism Working Group meeting, he said, will be the “most significant event” held in Jammu and Kashmir.

Also Read: Security up Jammu-Srinagar national highway ahead of G20 meet

China’s objection

China has opposed the G20 meeting in Kashmir, calling it a disputed territory, while Saudi Arabia has not registered for the event. Turkey has decided to stay away.

“China firmly opposes holding G20 meetings in any form in disputed areas and will not attend such meetings,” its foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Friday.

India countered the objection, saying it was free to hold meetings within its own territory. It said peace and tranquility on its border was essential for normal ties with China.

Security beefed up

The National Security Guard (NSG), Marine Commandos, as well as the Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG), have been deployed in the city for the meeting.

While G20 logos have been painted on walls and hoardings have been erected to welcome the delegates, Boulevard Road around the SKICC has been made a no-go zone for the three days.

Scanners and sniffer dogs have been pressed into action, while vehicles passing through the city are being randomly checked. Jammu and Kashmir Police has roped in the Army to cover the higher reaches of the Zabarwan Range overlooking the meeting venue and accommodation facilities for the guests.

The NSG’s anti-drone units have been activated. Thousands of soldiers and paramilitary forces are also part of the security grid. Thirty companies of the CRPF, which had been taken out of Jammu and Kashmir for election duty, have been recalled.

According to officials, there is no restriction on the movement of people or public transport in the city or elsewhere.

Also Read: G20 meeting: Home Secy, IB chief visit Kashmir, review security

The success of the tourism working group meeting will result in an increase in the influx of tourists and investments in Jammu and Kashmir, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said on Saturday.

Shringla said India has hosted 118 meetings since taking over G20.

(With agency inputs)

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