(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
Srinagar- Delegates of all G20 countries, barring China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, arrived in Srinagar on Monday for the third working group meeting on tourism – a much-anticipated event for which authorities have made extensive security arrangements and spruced up the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
“All the G20 countries except China participated. This meeting had an overwhelming response. We had 61 delegates here. All countries except China are present here,” India's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant told reporters at a press conference.
Kashmir, where tourism is a major industry, is embarking on an exciting journey with the G20 event in the Valley and it will send a strong message against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, Union ministers who have been camping here to oversee the event said.
Stringent security arrangements have been made to ensure that the event concludes incident-free. The elite National Security Guard and Marine commandos were helping police and paramilitary forces to secure the venues including the Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), while the Boulevard Road around it has been made a no-go zone for three days.
There was a massive deployment of security forces on the route taken by the delegates and the Airport Road to Dalgate stretch.
Kant downplayed the absence of Chinese delegates, saying travel and tourism is a private sector activity and trade delegations from several countries had participated.
Officials said it is not that all invitees attend every meeting and some have skipped those held in other parts of the country also.
Asked about the negative travel advisories of many foreign countries on Jammu and Kashmir, India's G20 Sherpa said the“officials from G7 countries were participating and they would not have come here if there were any such advisory”.
Speaking at the event, Union Minister of State in the PMO, Jitendra Singh, said Kashmir has undergone a change and there are no takers for strike calls anymore.
Markets across Kashmir, including in the city centre here, were open throughout the day and there were no restrictions on the movement of people or transport except for traffic diversions on Boulevard Road.
“If such an event (G20) was held earlier, a strike call would be given from Islamabad (Pakistan) and shops on Residency Road (in the city centre of) Srinagar would close. Now there is no hartal even if the call for hartal has come from here or there,” he said.
Singh said the common Kashmiris want to move on“as they have lost two generations (due to militancy)”.
The MoS expressed hope the delegates would become Kashmir's ambassadors and highlight the positive situation in the Valley.
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