- 'There Are No Answers, There Is No Clarity,' Says Omar Abdullah After Meeting J&K Governor
- BJP Accuses Congress, NC And PDP Of Triggering Panic Among People In Kashmir
- UK Govt Issues Advisory, Warns Citizens Against Travelling to Kashmir
- 'Unnecessary Panic Being Created, Don't Believe In Rumours': J&K Guv Satya Pal Malik On Situation In Valley
- Jammu And Kashmir: 'Machail Mata Yatra' Suspended Due To Security Concerns
Uncertainty and confusion prevailed in Kashmir on Saturday after the state government issued an advisory a day before asking Amarnath Yatris and tourists to leave the state immediately in view of "possible terror threat".
The uncertain situation led National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar to suspended its classes till further orders. However, district magistrate Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said no instructions were given to shut the institute. Non-local students of the institute were, however, rushed out of the state in buses early in the morning.
Pilgrims who were on Amarnath pilgrimage expressed their disappointment over the transportation facilities in Srinagar with the suspension of the Yatra.
The state government on Friday issued a security advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to immediately curtail their stay in the Valley and "return as soon as possible". The state requested the Indian Air Force to airlift the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims out of the Kashmir valley to places such as Jammu, Pathankot or Delhi from where they can go back home.
The government also suspended 43-day-long 'Machail Mata Yatra' in Kishtwar district due to "security reasons". Authorities asked people not to start the yatra and those on the way should leave and get back.
Following the government's advisory to tourists to curtail their trips to the state, the UK and Germany also issued advisories to their citizens, strongly discouraging then from travelling to Jammu and Kashmir.
"Travel to Kashmir is strongly discouraged," the advisory issued by Germany said.
"Individual actions directed against foreigners, including abductions, cannot be ruled out in the entire region," the advisory added.
The UK also warned its citizens against travel to the state, except Jammu city and Ladakh.
As the tourists and Yatris started to fly out of the Valley, average airfares to and from Srinagar increased by 20-25 per cent. Accordingly, month-on-month figures showed an average increase of 20-25 per cent increase in fares. Since Friday, the prices have also increased for spot bookings. The one-way Srinagar-Delhi flight, that otherwise costs between Rs 3,000-5,000, has shot up to Rs 37,915 for Vistara Airlines Saturday 12.40 p.m.
Following the soaring airfares, the Civil Aviation Ministry advised airlines to keep fares from Srinagar in check.
The government advisories and the uncertain situation has stoked chaos and confusion in the Valley. People on Saturday continued panic-buying even as provisions fast vanished from the shelves of departmental stores and from small grocery stores in towns and villages. Petrol pumps ran dry as people rushed to have their vehicle tanks and cans filled.
Hospitals have been alerted to keep their necessary complement of doctors present at emergencies and for patients. ATMs across Srinagar city and in districts like Ganderbal, Badgam, Pulwama, Kulgam, Baramulla, Shopian, Kupwara and Sopore town are running out of cash as people fear long hours of curfews could be imminent.
Amid this prevailing situation, fuelled by rumours and speculations, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah on Saturday met Governor Satya Pal Malik.
After meeting the Governor, Abdullah said that there was no clarity about what was happening in the Valley. He said that neither the government nor the administration was answering to the queries of the people.
"Nobody has any answers about what is going on in Kashmir. Anyone we ask about what is going to happen or what is happening, there are no answers," Abdullah said.
He said that the Governor assured him that no moves are planned on repealing Articles 370 and 35-A of the Constitution, or the state's trifurcation.
However, the former J&K Chief Minister said he wants assurance on these issues from the Centre in Parliament on Monday as "the Governor is not the final word on Jammu and Kashmir".
The Governor also issued a statement after the meeting, saying the state has no knowledge of any changes to Constitutional provisions and assured that the deployment of additional paramilitary forces was purely for security reasons. Malik asked political leaders in the state to tell their supporters to maintain calm and not to believe "exaggerated rumours" being circulated.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad also sought the central government's clarification over the prevailing situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Condemning the government's decision to curtail the Amarnath Yatra, Azad said the entire country is worried and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make a statement in Parliament on the current situation. He said Amarnath Yatra has never been curtailed, even when the pilgrimage was targeted by terrorists.
The BJP's state unit chief, Ravinder Raina, however, accused leaders of the NC, PDP and the Congress of deliberately triggering panic among the people, saying they were themselves frightened, and asserted that the common man has no fear.
(With Agency Inputs)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine