Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad on Saturday said the current tourism boom in Jammu and Kashmir is due to the rising temperature in the rest of the country and not because of any improved situation in the Union territory.
Azad made the assertion, reiterating his stand on the Delimitation Commission report, saying that “the tailor-made report is in contradiction with the ground realities”.
Azad, the J&K former chief minister, called for united efforts to finish militancy and also urged the government to accept the genuine demands of vulnerable sections of the society to ensure that they are not put in harm's way.
“The government should not be happy over the increase in tourist arrivals (in Kashmir) and link it with the (improved) situation,” he said.
“I give full credit for the tourism boom to the almighty as the rising temperatures in Delhi and the rest of the country prompted people to look for cooler environs in Kashmir, Shimla and elsewhere,” Azad told reporters here.
Azad reached Jammu on a two-day visit and presided over a function at the party headquarters to pay tributes to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary. He is scheduled to return to Srinagar on Sunday.
Flanked by senior leaders including J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir and working president Raman Bhalla, Azad said the mercury in Delhi touched 49.9 degrees Celsius and it was hovering between 47 and 48 degrees C in most parts of the country.
The people started fleeing to hill stations even ready to spend their time in tents or on roads to beat the heat, he added.
“There is no role of the state in the increased tourist footfall (in Kashmir),” he said.
The veteran Congress leader expressed concern over the growing terror activities in Kashmir and said “we all need to join hands to finish militancy (in Jammu and Kashmir)”.
“The genuine demands of the vulnerable sections of the society, whether they are Kashmiri pandits, Sikhs or Muslims who are on the hit list (of terrorists) should be accepted. We should not put them in harm’s way,” he said.
Asked about the Delimitation Commission report which took effect in Jammu and Kashmir with the issuance of a notification by the Union law ministry on Friday, Azad said he and other Congress leaders have made it clear that they are not satisfied with the report which contradicts the ground realities.
“It is a tailor-made report and prepared in such a way to benefit some and cause loss to whom they intend to,” the Congress leader said.
The panel's two orders -- one of March 14 dealing with the number of constituencies reserved for various categories and the second one of May 5 dealing with the size of each constituency -- came into effect together from May 20.
The Commission’s report will form the basis for future assembly polls in the Union territory. The delimitation panel had given six additional assembly seats to the Jammu region and one to Kashmir Valley and brought areas of Rajouri and Poonch under the Anantnag parliamentary seat.
Jammu division will now have 43 assembly seats and Kashmir 47 in the 90-member house.
In response to a question on the row over the use of speakers at religious places, Azad said the aim behind the campaign was to weaken the "ideology of tolerance” to create a rift in society.
“In the 1500-year-old history of our country, Hindus and Muslims have lived together and they will remain so till the end of this world. The temple bells, ‘azan’ (call for prayer) from mosques and the prayer meetings at churches and gurudwaras is all about Bharat and if it stops, Bharat is not going to remain the same,” he said.
He said the beautiful recitation of ‘bhajans’ from temples and ‘azans’ from mosques in the early hours makes one proud of the pluralistic country.
“The controversy was meant to weaken this ideology of tolerance. The idea of love and respect for each other needs to be strengthened. All of us - Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others – accept each other and that is what India is,” Azad said.
(With PTI inputs)