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G20 meet in Srinagar an opportunity to showcase changes in J&K: Jitendra Singh  

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‘Kashmir becoming favourite location for film-makers again’

New Delhi: The G20 meeting in Srinagar, beginning Monday, is an opportunity for India to showcase the changed scenario in Jammu and Kashmir which was earlier “under the shadow of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism”, Union minister Jitendra Singh said.    

The third meeting of the G20 Tourism Working Group will be held from Monday to finalise the ministerial communique for the ministerial meeting in Goa later this year.

The G20 meeting would also give the delegates an opportunity to see for themselves the transformation that has taken place in Jammu and Kashmir and try to correlate with the projections in the international media by “self-styled commentators”.

“The G20 delegates will be the true messengers of not only Kashmir, but also India as has been envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Singh, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, said.   

The G20 meeting will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday by Union Tourism Minister G Kishen Reddy, Singh and Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha.

“This is an indication of the fact that now Jammu and Kashmir as a whole and the Kashmir Valley, which a few years ago was believed to be a kind of a nerve centre of terrorism and Pak-sponsored militancy, is now in the same streamline of activity as any other city in the country. Be it the G20 in Hyderabad, Gurgaon or elsewhere, it is the same way happening in Srinagar,” Singh told PTI in a video interview. 

“It is also an opportunity for India to showcase the changed scenario of Jammu and Kashmir under Modi because of his very committed approach and courage of conviction,” said Singh, who also holds the portfolios of Science and Technology; Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.        

He said the prime minister’s outreach efforts for the region also proved to be a catalyst for change as he insisted on special ministerial visits to Jammu and Kashmir to follow up on the development initiatives in the region.   

“The change has also happened at the level of the common man walking on the streets of Srinagar. He now wants to move on. He has seen two generations sacrificed at the altar of terrorism, he is not prepared to do so anymore,” Singh said.

He said the youth in Kashmir is highly aspirational, well-informed, intelligent and fully aware of the enormous avenues the prime minister has made available to the region.

“The Kashmiri youth does not want to miss the bus and wants to be a part of the changes taking place in the region,” he said, adding the people of Jammu and Kashmir are looking forward to the G20 meeting with great enthusiasm.

“A few years ago, it was almost a taboo to visit Kashmir. Such events (conferences and meetings) had virtually come to a halt since 1990. But this year, maximum excitement has been generated by the venue of Srinagar as far as all the G20 meetings put together are concerned,” he said. 

Asked about China’s decision to skip the G20 meeting at Srinagar, Singh said it would be appropriate for the Ministry of External Affairs to comment on the matter.

 Meanwhile, Singh said that the change in Jammu and Kashmir over the past few years has raised the confidence of the film industry, which is now keen to make the Valley a prized location for movie making.

Singh said Jammu and Kashmir’s return to normalcy has led to an increase in tourism, which also has had an effect on film-making in the Valley.

The G20 meeting in Srinagar, beginning on Monday, has a session on Film Tourism for Economic Growth, he said.

“The very fact that the G20 is being held here (Srinagar) is itself an indication of the change that has happened over the last few years, particularly, following the pathbreaking and very decisive initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Singh told PTI in a video interview.

Singh said shooting a film at a tulip garden in Holland would not be the same as filming at a tulip garden in Kashmir as the costs would be much lower here.

“In Kashmir, within a radius of a few kilometres, you have fountains, lakes, plateaus, hillocks, snow-clad peaks. I am sure this is going to open up. The confidence building has also happened because of the very successful tourist season we had recently,” Singh said.

He said Kashmir was one of the favourite destinations for Bollywood post-Independence. 

“It had a versatility of locations and was very cost effective. There were a series of movies which were shot in Kashmir. Then suddenly everything came to halt in 1990. Those movies which were in the midst of production actually had difficulty in finding alternate locations,” he recalled.

“A few years ago, it was almost a taboo to visit Kashmir. Such kinds of events had virtually come to a halt since 1990,” he said.

Recently, film star Shah Rukh Khan was in the Kashmir Valley to shoot for “Dunki”, directed by Rajkumar Hirani.

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