Kashmiris speak: We are living in fear, G20 meeting in IIOJK nothing but a façade

Ottawa, May 26, 2023 (PPI-OT): The Canada-based CBC News said that by holding G20 tourism meeting in Srinagar, Indian authorities hoped to show that Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir is now peaceful and stable following the revocation of its special status but contrary to this the Kashmiris termed the campaign just a facade. In its report, the CBC News said that while a G20 tourism meeting unfolded this week on the banks of Srinagar’s picturesque Dal Lake, Indian army commandos patrolled the area and police officers with machine guns stood watch at most street corners. It said the tight security in J and K, already one of the world’s most heavily militarized zones, was ostensibly meant to ensure the working group meeting went smoothly.

But at the Jahangir Chowk market, several kilometers away from the perimeter insulating the meeting venue, the idea of everything being normal in Kashmir was dismissed outright, the news report added. “If there is normalcy in [J and K], what makes you create this huge amount of security personnel to deploy in the territory?” said businessman and political activist Amood Gulzar. “There is a contradiction.” The CBC report further said that others at the market and elsewhere quietly complained of harassment from police and soldiers ahead of the 3-day meeting. Multiple security checkpoints dotted Srinagar and residents told CBC News they felt unable to fully describe the situation to journalists, for fear of being detained.

“People are oppressed. We can’t speak openly,” one shoe vendor cried out in anger, while others nodded in agreement, the news report said. “We are living in fear. The forces are everywhere,” Srinagar resident Riyaz Ahmed told CBC News. “Every Kashmiri is depressed.” He said that while speaking to CBC, he was afraid that they might be watching and that he would be harassed later. Ahmed nonetheless continued the conversation, saying, “They want to show the world that Kashmir is peaceful. But it is not,” “The G20 campaign is just a façade”, he said.

At a nearby indoor market virtually devoid of customers, Manzoor Ahmed, a vendor, said, “Because of the heightened security presence around the G20, Kashmiris are very scared”. He shrugged when asked if he expected to see any benefit from the G20 meeting, which was focused on promoting tourism in the disputed region. “The G20 delegation had no communication with us Kashmiri people, they do not know about our sufferings and problems,” Ahmed said, adding, “The government only presented [the delegation] with a façade of normalcy and placed them in luxurious hotels.”

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