This time of the year, when Kashmir was still a state, the snow-covered mountain slopes of Gulmarg used to be bustling with people—tourists from all over the world converging on this picture-postcard destination to enjoy skiing, hiking or just lazing around their hotels, sipping hot cups of Kashmiri pink chai. The Gulmarg story went bust in August last year when the state was bifurcated and its special status revoked. Just a few days before the momentous decision, the government had asked all tourists to leave the state. They haven’t returned since then.
If lack of tourists was killing hoteliers in Gulmarg, they are now looking at an end to their businesses with the government launching a drive to take back “encroached land”—businesses with expired lease on land. The government move comes after a division bench of the J&K High Court, in response to a PIL, directed immediate steps for retrieval of public land under unauthorised occupation and encroachment in Gulmarg.