The Kashmir Valley gripped with uncertainty and panic after the government suspended the Amarnath Yatra, and asked tourists to leave the region ASAP. An estimated 11,000 tourists, including pilgrims over 200 foreign visitors, are currently in the Valley, according to governments officials.
Earlier, Governor Satya Pal Malik Administration suspended the annual Machail Mata pilgrimage in hilly Kishtwar’s Paddar area adjoining Kashmir Valley.
After the government orders, there was a massive rush at petrol pumps, grocery shops and ATMs, as people stocked up on supplies. Airlines have waived cancellation charges, tourists are packing up to leave, even the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar issued a notice, quoting the district administration, that class work for all courses “stands suspended till further orders”.
Local politicians have appealed to the Centre to check the Kashmir situation to prevent it from slipping away. The opposition Congress party urged the government not to take any decision that could “precipitate a deep crisis”, and requested it to maintain “constitutional guarantees” given to J&K.
Meanwhile, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti stated – The order to tourists and yatris is unprecedented. Even at the height of militancy, the Yatra was not suspended. This adds to the uncertainty in the Valley.
National Conference (NC) leader Omar Abdullah on Friday claimed that the people staying in hotels in Gulmarg were being forced to leave hotels. The NC leader said state transport buses were being deployed to people out of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
“Friends staying in hotels in Gulmarg are being forced to leave. State road transport Corpn buses are being deployed to bus people out from Pahalgam & Gulmarg. If there is a threat to the yatra why is Gulmarg being emptied?”
Earlier, panic gripped the Kashmir valley after India deployed additional 25,000 soldiers in the Kashmir valley in addition to the 10,000 security forces, which the officials termed as a move to strengthen the counter-insurgency operation in Kashmir and maintaining overall security.
Rumours are spreading in the Kashmir Valley that India could be heading towards a complete abrogation of Article 35-A. Some have even speculated that the matter could be a part of PM Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address at the Red Fort.