Controversial G20 Meeting in Indian-Administered Kashmir Seeks to Project “Normalcy”

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India is set to host a Group of 20 (G20) working group meeting on tourism in Indian-administered Kashmir, a disputed region, from May 22 to 24. This event marks the first global gathering in the region since August 5, 2019, when India’s government revoked the special status of the only Muslim-majority area in the country. The hosting of the G20 meeting in Kashmir is viewed by residents and experts as an attempt by India to project a sense of “normalcy” in the region, despite ongoing concerns about human rights violations and the denial of self-determination.

Efforts to Project “Normalcy”

The Indian government claims that hosting the G20 event will boost tourism in the region. The city of Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir, has undergone preparations for the meeting, including road improvements, painting lampposts, and removing security barricades. The city has been adorned with Indian national flags and G20 logos featuring the lotus, the election symbol of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, residents and experts argue that the hosting of an international conference does not address the underlying issues and does not provide genuine security or stability to the region.

Residents’ Perspectives

Residents of Kashmir express mixed feelings about the G20 meeting. Some see it as an attempt by the international community to overlook the ongoing sufferings and human rights abuses in the region. They view the event as “putting a lid on our miseries” and emphasize that the international community is already aware of the situation but remains largely silent. Others believe that showcasing the tourism potential and increased tourist arrivals since 2019 is significant for Kashmir and can positively impact the region’s economy.

International Perception

International perceptions of the G20 meeting in Kashmir are divided. Some argue that India intends to capitalize on the international perception that the situation in Kashmir has normalized and is conducive to investment and development. However, critics, including the United Nations special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, condemn the move, asserting that it normalizes the denial of democratic and human rights to Kashmiri Muslims and minorities. Varennes maintains that the G20 should not provide a “seal of approval” to a region where human rights violations persist.

Conclusion

The controversial G20 meeting in Indian-administered Kashmir aims to project a sense of “normalcy” in the disputed region. While India asserts that hosting the event will benefit tourism and showcase the region’s potential, critics argue that it overlooks the ongoing human rights violations and undermines the Kashmiri struggle for self-determination. The international community remains divided in its perception of the situation, with some endorsing India’s narrative of normalization and others condemning the move for disregarding human rights obligations. Ultimately, the G20 meeting in Kashmir raises questions about the effectiveness of international gatherings in addressing the underlying issues and challenges faced by the region.