Beauty and Bullets

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The Miss World beauty pageant will be held in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir, part of New Delhi’s efforts to promote tourism in the disputed Muslim-majority territory, Agence France-Presse reported.

Organizers said India will host a month-long series of events for the international contest from November to December, with part of the schedule to be held in Kashmir.

The territory has been plagued by a decades-long insurgency seeking independence or union with neighboring Pakistan. Fighting in the area has seen tens of thousands of civilians, soldiers, and rebels killed.

Control of the region is split between India and Pakistan, both of whom claim it in full but administer separate portions, divided by the Line of Control.

But India launched a massive crackdown on dissent in the region after revoking Kashmir’s limited autonomy in 2019. Critics say that Indian authorities have significantly curtailed civil liberties by criminalizing dissent, limiting press freedoms, and curbing public protests.

At the same time, India began a resettlement program to lure Indian Hindus from other parts of the country to live in Kashmir.

In a next step, the country is organizing the Miss World pageant to boost tourism in Kashmir, an area known for its stunning mountain scenery.

More than one million Indian citizens visited the region last year. In May, India hosted a Group of 20 tourism meeting in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar to show what officials called “normalcy and peace” – even though that gathering was conducted under very strict security.

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