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HomeDefenceWhy Gulmarg visit is off G20 itinerary in Kashmir

Why Gulmarg visit is off G20 itinerary in Kashmir

Administration says visit cancelled due to 'logistics issue' as over 60 delegates had to be catered to, but security apprehensions may have triggered the change of plans, it is learnt.

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New Delhi: The much awaited Wednesday visit of the G20 delegates to Gulmarg, the picturesque hill station near Srinagar, has been shelved.

While the official reason given by the administration is “logistics issues”, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that it was cancelled due to security apprehensions.

Sources further said that while various theories are doing the rounds, including the possibility of a 26/11 type attack, the real reason was a “failed” attempt of infiltration along the Line of Control (LoC) not far from Gulmarg just days ahead of the G20 tourism working group meeting which began here Monday.

The distance between Gulmarg and the LoC is less than 5 km but is longer in terms of road distance. Sources said there was an infiltration attempt from Pakistan a few days prior to the G20 meet.

While the attempt was foiled by alert troops, there was an apprehension that an odd terrorist could have made it in.

The problem is that the Gulmarg area is within the range of possible mortar strike. “It was decided as a case of abundant caution to cancel the Gulmarg visit for the G20 which was part of the original itinerary,” a source said to ThePrint.

Sources said that security agencies had given the all-clear for the visit initially, but the latest development cast a shadow. Another option that was initially considered for the delegates was a lunch at Dachigam near Srinagar, but security concerns over the ridges around the location led to that plan being dropped too, it is learnt.

The administration has said that the Gulmarg visit was cancelled due to “logistics issues” since over 60 delegates had to be catered to. Sources said another worry was the long convoy that would have to be organised for all the delegates to visit Gulmarg which was anyway a huge security nightmare.

As reported by ThePrint, there is a heavy security blanket in Srinagar for the meet. All G20 delegates have been accorded the highest security cover, including bulletproof vehicles, jammers and ambulances in tow.

To ensure an incident-free G20 meet, the government has deployed the elite MARCOS commandos of the Indian Navy, along with National Security Guards. Central Armed Police Forces, including those from the CRPF and the BSF, have been deployed in large numbers.

Adding to the security grid are Rashtriya Rifles units and the Para Special Forces (SF) of the Indian Army deployed in ridges around the venue and where the delegates are staying.

Sources said that over the last few weeks, agencies have tracked possible mischief-makers and rounded up several of them, including overground workers of terror organisations. 

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

Also read: Middle East can be crucial ally for India on Kashmir. Its G20 absence shows challenges ahead


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