It is a pleasant April morning in Kashmir. The temperature swings between a comfortable 14 and 20 degrees Celsius and the towering Zabarwan range shimmers in the glassy waters of the Dal Lake. But Mohammad Shafi Sheikh, 52, who plies shikaras on the Dal, is distressed. “In the past few years, there were lots of tourists, but this year has been bad. No one is coming and we don’t earn anything. I don’t know what has happened this year,” he laments.
His colleague, Ghulam Mohideen, interjects, “Pulwama happened this year. After that, travellers stopped visiting. Only tourists from some countries are coming,” he says pointing to two ladies from Southeast Asia. In recent years, tourists from the region have been visiting Kashmir in significant numbers.