Tourist fleeing, hotels being vacated, locals’ stock essentials, long queues at ATMs, petrol pumps
Srinagar, August 02 : A government order issued by the Principal Secretary Home asking tourists and Amarnath pilgrims to curtail their stay and to return to their homes immediately triggered panic and chaos across Kashmir on Friday, witnesses told KNO.
They said that the order that stated that in view of the intelligence input that Amarnath Yatra is being attacked by the militants, Yatris and tourists must curtail their visit and return to their homes immediately, resulted in chaos at the base camps of Baltal in Sonmarg and Chandanwari at Pahalgam with pilgrims and tourists packing their bags and planning to go back.
Many tourists told KNO that they were under the tight grip of fear as such a government advisory is only issued during war or emergency like situations. “We regret coming to Kashmir. I am accompanying elderly mother, it’s difficult to rush back to my home state of Madhya Pradesh on such a short notice,” Amit Ranjan, who was camping at Gulmarg since last four days told KNO over phone.
He said all the tourists in the tourist resort of Gulmarg and elsewhere rushing back to their home states and cancelling their hotel bookings for which they had already paid in advance. Another group of tourists who had booked a hotel at Pahalgam, also reached Srinagar this evening amid fear on their faces even though locals were pacifying them by saying “stay calm, nothing was going to happen.”
Kashmir is under the tight grip of fear since last week amid huge troop movement as almost 25000 additional forces were brought into the Valley raising doubts that New Delhi was planning something big. Rumour mills were rife with the rumours that article 35-A was being removed, with some saying that New Delhi was planning trifurcation of the State with Jammu being given a status of statehood, Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories.
Even as tourists and pilgrims were in a hurry to go back to their home states, locals too were seen stocking essentials and filling the tanks of their vehicles with petrol. At the ATMs, long queues were seen with people withdrawing money. “Something is going to happen for sure.
This all is an exercise for something big. Why troops should be called to Kashmir in large numbers when there is already large number of security forces personnel everywhere,” said Lateef Ahmed, who withdrew Rs 20,000 from an ATM at Lal Chowk, Srinagar. Many people including patients were seen buying medicines in large quantity with many others stocking fruit, vegetables, milk and baby food.