India strengthens security in Kashmir ahead of G20 event
Srinagar, India, May 3 (EFE).- Authorities in India-administered Kashmir have deployed a special elite military unit to bolster security during the third meeting of the G20 working group on tourism, set to be held in the disputed region later this month.
“At a security review meeting, it was decided to deploy Marine and NSG (National Security Guard) commandos to protect the guests and the venue of the event,” a police official told EFE on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity.
The commando teams “will be deployed to counter suicide attacks along with the Special Operation Group (SOG) personnel to counter drone attacks,” he added.
The meeting of G20 tourism experts, to be held in the region’s summer capital Srinagar between May 22-24, will be the first of event of the bloc be held in Kashmir, a disputed region on which both India and Pakistan claim sovereignty.
The event will be a precursor to the G20 tourism ministers’ meeting, to be held on June 21-22 in India’s southwestern Goa province.
The activities of the bloc that comprises of the world’s top 20 economies – currently presided over by India – have led to the acceleration of projects to develop and modernize the summer capital of the Jammu and Kashmir region, first launched in 2017.
In recent months, Srinagar has witnessed large-scale construction on several sites, with the authorities aiming to turn it into a “smart city” ahead of the tourism meet.
The government has allocated around 30 billion rupees ($36.6 million) to give a complete makeover to the city.
The iconic clock tower, situated in the heart of Srinagar, is also being renovated rapidly ahead of the G20 events.
“We have some 80 projects going on in Srinagar city,” Athar Amin Khan, the commissioner of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, told EFE.
The Himalayan territory of Kashmir, split between India and Pakistan, has been at the center of more than 70 years of an unending territorial dispute between the two South Asian nuclear powers, also witnessing a violent separatist insurgency and high levels of militarization.
In April, Islamabad had expressed protested against New Delhi’s decision to organize a G20 meeting on the part of Kashmir under its control.
Tensions between the two sides have remained high since 2019, when India revoked the semi-autonomous status of Kashmir and divided it into two federally-controlled territories. EFE