Kashmir welcomes back tourists after lifting curbs

In a clear message to the world that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is peaceful, India announced on Monday that an advisory issued in early August will be lifted from Oct 10.  

On Aug 2, the home ministry had asked tourists and pilgrims to leave Kashmir Valley due to terror threat.

The advisory was issued three days before Parliament passed a landmark bill removing the decades-old special status of Jammu and Kashmir to integrate the region with the rest of the country.

Since Aug 5, Governor Satya Pal Malik had been holding daily meetings to review the situation and security in the territory with his advisors and chief secretary.

Tourism industry in the territory suffered after the issuance of travel advisory and imposition of restrictions on communications and movement on Aug 5 to prevent violent protests over the parliamentary legislation.

The iconic Dal Lake, above, the Valley’s most valuable tourist draw, is in a mess as municipal workers did not bother to regularly dispose of garbage and weed choking it.

Boats are idling because there are no tourists.

The lifting of travel advisory from Thursday is expected to bring back tourists to this scenic place.

The governor says security restrictions have been lifted in the most parts of Jammu and Kashmir to bring life back to normal.

Block Development Council elections to be held on Oct 24 have prompted the government to allow workers of the two major local parties to meet their leaders who are under house arrest.

Last week, a 15-member team of National Conference members were allowed to meet to meet their leaders and former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah and his son Omar Abdullah.

Members of the People’s Democratic Party were set to meet their arrested leader and former chief minister Mehabooba Mufti.

The Abdullahs and Mufti are being detained for inciting hatred against the central government over its move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

Mufti even said rivers of blood will flow if Article 370 related to the territory’s special status was tinkered with.

 Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir administration said political leaders under house arrest will be released in a phased manner. It has released local leaders in the Jammu region and leaders in Kashmir are now waiting for their turn.

The governor’s advisor Farooq Khan said the rest of the leaders will be released one by one after proper analysis and review.

While India’s opposition parties, Pakistan and a section of Indian and Western media question the scrapping of special status, New Delhi says it was a temporary provision and an internal matter.

According to the government, Jammu and Kashmir is on the path of development which may be anathema to some political parties, terrorists, Pakistan and a section of media.