India is set to host a Group of 20 (G20) meeting in Indian-administered Kashmir, with residents and experts saying the controversial event is aimed at projecting “normalcy” in the disputed region.

The third G20 working group meeting on tourism will be held in the region from May 22 to 24 – the first global event there since August 5, 2019 when India’s right-wing government scrapped the special status of the country’s only Muslim-majority region.

In the years since New Delhi brought Indian-administered Kashmir under its direct control, the government has pushed a series of laws and policies that Kashmiris in the valley say are aimed at undermining their struggle for the right to self-determination of their future.

India is currently the president of the G20, an intergovernmental bloc comprised of 19 countries and the European Union. The group accounts for 80 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP).

School girls hold G2O flags during a function ahead of the summit in Srinagar
School girls hold G2O flags during a function ahead of the summit in Srinagar [Tauseef Mustafa/AFP]

‘Putting a lid on our miseries’

India claims the G20 event will boost the region’s tourism industry as it plans to take the delegates for a tour of the picturesque Himalayan valley.

Srinagar, the region’s main city with 1.4 million residents, is getting a facelift for the event. Roads leading to the airport have been given a coat of tar and paint. Lampposts along the streets have been illuminated in orange, white, and green, the colours of India’s national flag.

The security bunkers dotting the city have been painted in blue while the concertina wires that were seen all over one of the world’s most militarised regions have been removed in many places…

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