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India's Bold Move: G-20 Event in Leh to Send Powerful Message to China

Indian government plans to host its next G-20 engagement group meeting in Leh this month, exactly three years after security services first noticed unusual numbers of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops amassing along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.

Shivam Dwivedi
India's Bold Move: G-20 Event in Leh to Send Powerful Message to China
India's Bold Move: G-20 Event in Leh to Send Powerful Message to China

The Youth-20 Summit, or Y-20, will be held in Leh from April 26 to 28, bringing together over 80 delegates from practically every G-20 countries, according to authorities. They did not, however, remark on which countries have not yet confirmed their participation. While Pakistan has once again objected to talks being held in "illegally occupied" Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, it is not invited.

The presence of the three G-20 countries that are also members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) — Turkey, Indonesia, and Saudi Arabia- will also be scrutinized. The OIC has issued a number of statements condemning India's decision to reorganize Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. According to diplomatic sources, Turkey may be unable to send officials due to upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, while Indonesia has yet to respond.

The Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Tuesday expressing "strong indignation" at New Delhi's plans to conduct the G-20 sessions in Srinagar and Leh. "Such events cannot obscure the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an internationally recognized dispute that has been on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council for over seven decades," the MFA stated, accusing India of "exploiting its membership" in the G-20 to pursue its own agenda.

The MEA did not immediately respond to the MFA statement. However, it denied China's claim to Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday, following Home Minister Amit Shah's visit to the northeastern province on Monday. "Arunachal Pradesh has always been, is still, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India."

Objecting to such trips "will not change the above reality," according to a MEA representative. Officials stated the Y-20 and G-20 tourism summits are nearing completion. While approximately 80 youth delegates chosen by their governments are likely to go to Leh for the three-day meeting and would primarily remain in the city, government delegates travelling to Srinagar may also be transported to Gulmarg for a day.

The Kushok Bakula Rimpochee (KBR) Airport in Leh has been renovated, and e-buses have been deployed to transport delegates. For the April event, three centrally protected monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India Leh Circle- the old Leh Palace, Hemis Monastery, and Thiksey Monastery- have been illuminated.

According to Youth Affairs ministry sources, the agenda for the Leh youth meeting has already been prepared by the first "inception" meeting in Guwahati in January. It would be considered at the Leh meeting and finalized for a unified communique at the August conference in Varanasi. The communiqué discussions would revolve around five themes: the future of work and innovation, climate change, peacebuilding and reconciliation, the role of youth in democracy and governance, and health and well-being. (physical and mental).

When asked if Beijing had expressed reservations about the sites, officials stated that invitations were extended to all countries in January and that all were aware of the dates of the event in Leh, adding that it was the "prerogative" of the guest countries to determine whether to attend.

The arguments were dismissed by Chering Dorjay, leader of the Leh Apex Body and senior vice president of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA). "China has no standing to comment on what we do in Ladakh. Such threats should not be taken seriously by India, according to Dorjay.

During the festival, Ladakh is expected to highlight its cultural uniqueness and boost tourism. According to officials, a funfair will be held in the desert near Leh, with villagers displaying street art, traditional dances, local cuisine and selling items by local start-ups at village haats. According to sources, the Sindhu Ghat will also organize an event for the delegates.

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