Connect with us

#Current Affairs

India Hosts G20 Summit In Kashmir: A Projection Of Normalcy To Fuel Settler-Colonial Ambitions



What a shameful contrast there is between the November 2022 G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia and the upcoming Indian-sponsored G20 summit to be held in Srinagar, Kashmir on May 22-24. There was political drama in the build-up to the Bali summit, condemning Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, no G20 summit has ever been so diplomatically hyped as India has done to promote the event in Kashmir, despite the presence of 900,000 occupying Indian soldiers. The Bali summit was dominated by justified condemnations of Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and calls by the U.S. and Australia for Russia to be excluded from the meeting. India, which has extensive trade, political, and military ties to Russia, refused to join the condemnations.

A Silent Acceptance of India’s Sovereignty


PC: Piero Regnante (unsplash)

On December 1, 2022, India took over the presidency of the G20 for one year, and in the past five months has, in a quite brilliantly executed but profoundly cynical political campaign, made an extravaganza and international spectacle of its G20 agenda for occupied Kashmir. Unlike the condemnations of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there are no members of the G20 denouncing India’s occupation of Kashmir with a military force almost as large as the entire active-duty U.S. military or Russian military in an area the size of the U.S. state of Wyoming. The refusal to condemn the occupation or to boycott the G20 meeting in a conflict zone is a signal by G20 members and the European Union (EU) of their acceptance of India’s sovereignty over Kashmir.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Not a single country among the 20-member G20 States and European Union (EU) has protested holding the meeting in occupied Kashmir because eight of the member states sell arms and weapons systems to India (Canada, the U.K., the U.S., Italy, Germany, Russia, France, South Korea) and four of the member states import weapons systems from India (Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, Japan). Several nations in the EU sell to or purchase billions in weapons from India. All of those billions in weapons go to arming India militarily against the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Holding the G20 meeting in Kashmir without any protest from the member states arms India politically against the Kashmiri freedom struggle. China and Pakistan which both have illegal claims to parts of Kashmir protested India holding the G20 summit in Kashmir but for their own political purposes, not in solidarity with the Kashmiri struggle against colonial occupation.

Colonial ‘Beautification’ Projects, Y20, and the Repression of Azadi

Most media reports about the G20 meeting are about the ‘Smart City’ beautification projects in Srinagar. The reports don’t mention that the beautification projects are taking on a colonial character by changing the Kashmiri character of the city. The ‘beautification’ also includes ‘smart bunkers’ for military personnel which are getting painted in pastels to minimize the visible presence of 900,000 troops. There is also coverage of India’s security preparations against an exaggerated threat from ‘Pakistani-sponsored terrorists’. India announced the deployment of elite commando units and snipers, aerial drones, infrared devices, CCTV cameras, and procedures against IEDs, suicide attacks, bomb threats, drone attacks, and grenade assaults. That plays well into Islamophobic ‘war on terror’ rhetoric but the only serious threat of terrorism in Kashmir is the presence of 900,000 Indian soldiers. The threat is not so-called ‘Islamist terrorism’ because even by the Indian government’s estimations, there are less than 200 active guerrilla operatives and they are scattered, unorganized, badly armed, and badly trained. The problem, as seen by the Indian government, is the intransigent determination of the Kashmiri people to win independence from India.

For an event with such a spectacular promotional build-up, there is scant reporting on the actual G20 events which began with a youth conference in Ladakh on April 27th and proceeded to a youth conference at Kashmir University (KU) on May 10th and 11th. The conferences were both part of Youth-20 (Y20) events in India and occupied Kashmir to promote the political agenda of the upcoming G20 summit. KU has been called the ‘madrasa of azadi’ where generations of students became activists in the Kashmiri freedom struggle. But last year, India’s Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Minoj Sinha appointed Professor Nilofer Khan as Vice-Chancellor. There isn’t much controversy about frankly calling her a collaborator. There are no available photos from the Y20 conference in Ladakh but the few photos of the event at KU reveal why there is so little media coverage. There is ‘no there there’ to the events. In a large KU auditorium, most of the small scattered crowd is identified as foreign youth representatives from the G20 nations. Photos of the podium show a lineup of elderly Indian officials, not a youth among them. There is nothing compromised about being an elderly activist–except at a conference promoted as a youth event. Indian media claims 170 delegates participated in the Ladakh Y20 conference and 199 Kashmiris and 83 foreign students participated in the Y20 conference at KU. The spirit of azadi among students at KU was not threatened but it was repressed by the Y20 non-event.

“Visit Kashmir”


PC: Isa Macouzet (unsplash)

The G20 meeting in Kashmir on May 22-24 is the Tourism Working Group of the G20 founded in 2020 and its focus will be on developing, investing in, and promoting tourism in Kashmir. The full-scale G20 summit will be held in New Delhi next September. According to Vice Chancellor Khan, the Y20 conference had panels and seminars on environmental protections for developing tourism in Kashmir titled, ‘Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life.”

Kashmir is renowned for its natural beauty and ski resorts but it is also known as the most militarized region in the world. India is proposing a classic full program of neoliberal economics in Kashmir and tourism is a central part of neoliberal economics where colonized peoples are turned into service providers for wealthy foreign tourists. Were it not for the occupation, the luxurious Gulmarg Ski Resort might be the international equivalent of Aspen or the Swiss Alps but the route from Srinagar airport to the resort is lined with barbed wire, guarded by bunkers of Indian soldiers, and near the Line of Control where there is frequent cross-shooting between Indian and Pakistani troops.

However, the tourism infrastructure being proposed by India is not just for skiing tourists. They are actively promoting Kashmir to the international film industry, not just Bollywood, as a film location. They have already over several years developed a massive highly militarized religious tourism industry based on pilgrimages to Hindu holy sites in Kashmir. The Amarnath Yatra drew over one-million Indians in 2022. The Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) wrote a brilliant report on the militarization of religious pilgrimages like the Amarnath Yatra but India has now shut now the JKCCS, incarcerated its director Khurram Parvez, and closed down its website where the report was available.

The Y20 discussions at KU on environmental protections for tourism were nothing more than political mockery and window dressing for India’s colonial predations. The use of tear gas, pellet guns, and incendiary weapons in thousands of military operations over the decades has been a major environmental hazard adversely affecting the lives and health of millions of Kashmiris. During the entire duration of its occupation, India has shown nothing but the most reckless disregard for protecting the renowned natural beauty of Kashmir. Since 1999, it has built seven major hydroelectric dams which have displaced and made homeless hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris in the rural areas, devastated the ecology of Kashmir’s rivers, destroyed hundreds of acres of forest lands. It is accelerating these predations and land expropriations since the August 2019 abrogation of Kashmir’s special status by forcing nomadic tribes off forest lands where they have lived for generations in order to claim the lands for military installations or industrial estates.

The Facade of Gender Equality

As part of the political whitewash of the occupation, Vice Chancellor Khan boasted that gender equality protections in Kashmir would be discussed at the KU conference. Here’s where the stench of cynicism becomes unbearable. How dare Indian officials speak of gender equality in Kashmir as if they were bringing women’s emancipation to Kashmiri women when over the 75 years of India’s occupation thousands of Kashmiri women and girls have been raped and sexually assaulted by Indian forces as a military policy of social control under occupation and with complete impunity; when thousands of women have become ‘half widows’ because their husbands were forcibly disappeared by Indian forces and they don’t know whether they are dead or alive in an Indian prison; and when thousands of women have seen their children murdered, assaulted, arrested, incarcerated in Indian jails for the ‘crime’ of fighting against India’s occupation! In 2019, retired Indian Army general S.P. Sinha (who was accused of war crimes and is now a member of the ruling BJP) hysterically called on live television for the mass rape of Kashmiri women in revenge for the Kashmiri Pandit exodus of the early 1990s (which was in fact orchestrated by the Indian governor of Jammu and Kashmir). Refusing to be silenced, he screamed on television, “Maut ke badle maut balatkar ke badle balatkar”, which means ‘death for death, rape for rape’.

India announced that Y20 conferences being held throughout India in preparation for the September G20 summit in New Delhi would include a panel titled ‘Peace Building and Reconciliation: Ushering in a New Era of No War’ but there is no report it was held at KU where it would have been an unspeakable sarcasm given the presence of 900,000 occupying soldiers in Kashmir, including snipers and special forces. Indian media said the Y20 conferences were meant to provide a forum for “healthy discussions and dissemination of India’s G20 agenda” which would of course not include questions about the occupation or Kashmiri self-determination.

Neoliberal Economy Powered by Kashmiri Sweatshop Labor

India is implementing a full-scale, accelerated program of neoliberal reforms in Kashmir. Neoliberalism has the distinct political character of colonialism. Given the occupation and massive repression of popular dissent including the arrest of journalists, political leaders, and human rights activists, this has become the era of Kashmiri collaborators who have a distinct class character. India is collaborating with the financial elite of Kashmir represented in the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and other such organizations to promote foreign investment in Kashmir.

As in other countries where neoliberal policies prevail, whilst most Kashmiris will be impoverished, there will be some who will become millionaires and billionaires by cooperating with neoliberal reforms, foreign investment, and foreign control. India has plans for 42 new industrial estates in Kashmir. Industrial estates are free trade zones or special economic zones where products are processed and manufactured for the export market. Sweatshop labor is the heart of industrial zones. It is obvious that India plans to completely destroy most of the small businesses that make up the Kashmiri economy. That 500-shop mall will put thousands of small Kashmiri shops completely out of business in the same way that Walmart has wherever it operates. That represents not just economic change for Kashmiris but a thoroughgoing cultural change.

So when India is promising thousands of jobs for Kashmiris in its economic development, what it means is employment at sweatshop wages under sweatshop conditions of labor.

As part of preparing Kashmir for an economy based on sweatshops and free trade zones, India has brokered with Dubai to build two inland container port facilities, one in Jammu and one near Srinagar in Kashmir, to handle the goods produced for the foreign market and move them to sea ports for shipment. That’s what neoliberal economics is based on: producing products with dirt cheap labor for export to foreign markets, mainly in the U.S. or Europe. It is the economic form of white supremacy.

Dubai plays a central role in India’s plans for Kashmir. In October 2021, the Indian government signed an agreement with Dubai for millions of dollars in infrastructure projects, including the two container ports, industrial parks, IT towers, multi-purpose towers, logistics centers, a shopping mall and office complex, a medical college, and a specialty hospital. The proposed one-million-square foot shopping mall with 500 shops and an attached office complex alone will cost US $60 million (5 billion rupees). India claims it will generate around 7,000 to 8,000 jobs but it is more likely that workers from India will be hired than local Kashmiris who will be considered more suitable as sweatshop labor. Neoliberal economics is about dispossession, not empowerment. India has operated on a neoliberal model since the early 1990s and its continuous economic crises reflect that tyranny.

Standing with the Kashmiri Freedom Struggle

G20 protest sign

PC: Markus Spiske (unsplash)

The Indian Army is buying up or appropriating thousands of acres of Kashmiri lands for military installations because it foresees the necessity of maintaining occupation in this new Kashmir. That is really the Achilles Heel of India’s neoliberal transformation of Kashmir. Because the Y20 thing was never about winning the hearts and minds of Kashmiri youth. That ship sailed a long time ago and India knows it. The majority of Kashmiri young people are committed to Azadi. The resistance to occupation will not go away because of sweatshops and shopping malls but will take on new more difficult dimensions, including class dimensions among Kashmiri working people opposed to occupation and exploitation of all kinds.

What India, with the collusion of the other G20 nations, is trying to erase from international understanding is the 75-year struggle of the Kashmiri people against Indian colonialism and military occupation. Appeals to the political morality of the G20 nations will come to naught because of their commercial and military investments with India. It should be an imperative commitment of human rights activists around the world, especially in the G20 member states, to rally and protest their government’s participation in the G20 summit. Our commitment should be to expose the lies and stand four square with the Kashmiri freedom struggle. Indian Prime Minister Modi will be traveling to the U.S. for an official state visit from June 21 to 24, where he will be hosted by U.S. President Biden at the White House. We should use that opportunity to protest the military and political alliance between the U.S. and India whilst Kashmiris are being subjected to occupation, extreme repression, and genocide.



Hostile Homelands: The New Alliance Between India And Israel | Book Review –

Surveillance, Detentions And Politics of Fear: Managing Kashmir The Palestinian Way  –


Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Mary Scully is a political activist and writer in the US since 1966, participating in the antiwar movement, the Civil Rights movement, the women's rights movement, Palestinian solidarity since the 1967 war, the trade union movement. She is an active supporter of the Kashmiri freedom struggle.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *