Leave Kashmir: Govt to tourists, pilgrims

Long queue of vehicles at petrol pump in Srinagar on Friday. (UNI)
Long queue of vehicles at petrol pump in Srinagar on Friday. (UNI)

Order triggers panic, chaos across Valley
DGCA advises airlines to be ready for extra flights
Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, Aug 2: Kashmir remained on the edge today as a fresh order asking tourists and Amarnath yatris to leave the Valley triggered panic among the residents as they started stocking up dry ration and essentials, fearing long law and order disturbance.
The State Government issued an advisory to Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to curtail their stay in Kashmir immediately.
“Keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir valley, in the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible,” said an order issued by Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra.
The order led to panic in Kashmir which has remained tense for the past few days after the Centre ordered deployment of 100 companies of additional troops in the Valley.
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The deployment of the troops and various orders gave rise to the speculations about some major decisions in the offing regarding the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.
Apprehending deterioration in the law and order situation, people were seen lining up at departmental stores in the city and elsewhere to stock up dry ration and essentials.
“We regret for coming to Kashmir. I am accompanying elderly mother, it’s difficult to rush back to my home State of Madhya Pradesh at such a short notice,” Amit Ranjan, who was camping at Gulmarg since last four days said.
The tourists at Gulmarg and Pahalgam and other places cut short their visit and some of them left to Jammu by road and others came to Srinagar to take flights tomorrow. The tourists who had booked a hotel at Pahalgam, also reached Srinagar this evening amid fear on their faces even though locals were pacifying them by saying “stay calm, nothing is going to happen.”
Panic gripped the people after the Government order and they queued for essentials outside stores, petrol pumps and ATMs.
Long queues were seen outside the petrol pumps and people were thronging provision store and buying essential supplies. Soon after the announcement, people came out of their homes and rushed towards the markets to buy essentials. What added to the chaos were the rumors which were already in circulation.
One of the largest provision stores in posh Rajbagh area of Srinagar has seen panic buying for last over a week especially since morning. Zahoor Ahmad, the owner of the store said: “We are running out of stocks due to panic buying. People are storing provisions. On the other hand, we are yet to procure provisions for our store for Eid as there is uncertainty looming over. We are in a dilemma, whether to buy or not.”
Wali Mohammad, a resident of Tailbal village in the outskirts of Srinagar was waiting in a long queue outside a Government store to buy rice. “There was only half a truck of rice that was delivered to our village. I just managed to get 30 kilograms of rice”, he said.
The order added to the sense of panic among the residents who were clueless about the recent happenings. “God knows what will happen to us. The chaos is denting with our psyche. The Government should come clear on the issue. Let them declare what they want,” Waseem Ahmad, a local said.
There were long queues outside ATMs and some of them had run out of cash. There were queues at the medical stores at various places with people buying medicines. Some of the stores have run out of life saving drugs.
With situation appearing turbulent in Kashmir, aviation regulator DGCA advised airlines to remain ready to operate additional flights from the Srinagar airport if the need arises, according to a source.
“DGCA has advised airlines to remain ready. If there is a need, airlines should be ready to run extra flights,” a source privy to the development said.
“Around 8.45pm, the situation at the Srinagar airport was checked by the DGCA and it was found to be normal. It was found that there is no need to run extra flights right now. But if the need arises later on, the airlines have been advised to remain ready to run extra flights,” the source added.
On Friday evening, IndiGo said on Twitter, “In view of the current security situation in Srinagar and the Government advisory regarding it, we are providing a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Srinagar till Aug 09, 2019.”
With around 49 per cent share in the domestic air-passenger market, IndiGo is the leading airline in the country.
Vistara tweeted, “Due to prevailing security situation in Kashmir, we are waiving change and cancellation fees for flights to/from Jammu and Kashmir for next seven days (till August 9, 2019). Only fare difference, if any, will be applicable for date changes.”
Air India has decided to give a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all its flights to/from Srinagar till August 15.