India boosts security for G20 meeting in Kashmir

India boosts security for G20 meeting in Kashmir


Commandos and counter-terrorism force had been deployed in various places in the city

 NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR (Reuters) – India has stepped up security in its occupied Jammu and Kashmir fearing increase in militant attacks in the run-up to a G20 meeting on tourism in the Himalayan territory, officials said on Wednesday.

The city of Srinagar, the summer capital of the federal territory, is due to host a tourism working group meeting of G20 members on May 22-24, part of a series of meetings ahead of a G20 summit in New Delhi in September.

Freedom fighters have stepped up attacks this year in the Jammu region, across the mountains from the Kashmir Valley where Srinagar is located.

Ten soldiers and seven civilians have been killed in four attacks in Jammu this year.

Security officials said they fear they [freedom fighters] could try to promote their cause with an attack before or during the G20 meeting.

"The timing of these attacks is worrisome as they are planned just before the G20 meeting," said a senior Indian army officer in the region. He declined to be identified as he is not authorised to speak to media.

Military and police officers said they had intelligence information that fighters might target a military-run school in Jammu and take students hostage.

In response, such schools had been shut and classes moved online until after the G20 meeting, they said.

Security agencies are not taking any chances in Srinagar, officers said.

Vijay Kumar, chief of police in the Kashmir Valley, told Reuters that commandos had been deployed in the city and members of a counter-terrorism force would be stationed in various places.

Srinagar has been at the centre of the struggle by Muslims against Indian rule since 1989.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed although the violence has been reduced in recent years.

India blames Pakistan for supporting the Muslim freedom fighters. Pakistan denies that and accuses India of violating the rights of Kashmir's Muslim people. India denies that.

The nuclear-armed neighbours, who have fought three wars, two of them over Kashmir, both claim the region in full but rule it in part.