3 major pilgrimages suspended in Jammu; tourists, yatris, students flee Valley
Srinagar, Aug 3: Thousands of tourists, pilgrims and labourers fled Kashmir since last evening after Government asked them to curtail their visit citing Intelligence inputs of the terror threats in the Kashmir.
Large number of tourists and pilgrims left Kashmir since last evening, during night and today since the advisory created panic in the region.
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Since last night, the Tourist Reception Centre (TRC) in Srinagar was full of tourists who were holidaying and labourers who were working in Kashmir. Srinagar airport saw a long queue of people for flying out of Kashmir.
According to estimates, there were around 20,000 Amarnath pilgrims and tourists and around 200,000 labourers in Kashmir when the advisory was issued. Majority of the tourists and pilgrims have left and the labourers are leaving.
Prabakar Iyer, 45, from Bengaluru along with his family was holidaying in Kashmir when the advisory was issued. He had come to Kashmir a day before for 10 day visit and left last night in a taxi to Jammu for his onward journey.
“I was staying in a Houseboat in Dal lake when the advisory was issued. I fail to understand why we are being asked to leave? Everything is normal here. We visited Mughal gardens and people have been very nice and we had no problem”, he said.
The tourists are not the only ones who are fleeing Kashmir but thousands of labourers from outside Kashmir who work here during the summers are also leaving Kashmir in panic.
Manjit Singh, 55, a carpenter from Saharanpur Uttar Predesh along with his three associates left this morning in a huff. He has been working in Kashmir for last 9 years.
“I am not afraid but Government advisory has created panic and my family wants me back. I am leaving but will return if situation improves”, he said.
The foreign tourists were also asked to leave by police. Venaki, a Belgium tourist who arrived here last week left Kashmir after police this morning asked them to leave. “We were in the lake in the morning and military came, asked us to leave immediately. We wanted to stay here as we don’t see any trouble. It is a nice place, people are very nice. We are going to Amritsar and will come back soon”, she said.
However, over 60 tourists of different nationalities arrived for holidaying in Kashmir despite panic.
And non-local and local students from National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar were today asked to leave the campus.
The administration had arranged the transport to bus the non-locals students out of the college, while as the local students hailing from various districts of Kashmir allege that they were told to manage on their own.
The advisory which was issued had ordered the suspension of classes at NIT till further orders, However, today the students were asked to vacate, which was facilitated after the transport was made available to them early in the morning.
“After the notice was issued, the students were told that in the morning the buses will be here and nobody will stay here, and that is what is happening right now. It is surely going to affect us as the classes had begun barely a few days ago, even those who were newly admitted in the college had just started to come,” said Suhail, a student hailing from Budgam
The students said that the panic had gripped the campus since the notice was issued and that the administration is not telling them anything apart from advising them to vacate as soon as possible.
Students said that there is a lot of confusion around as the college administration has not given them any time frame till which the college shall remain closed. They are also saying that while the college administration has stated that the notice was issued on the directions of the district administration, the same has been refuted by the concerned.
“At least they could have given us a time frame with regard to the suspension of classes, they have not done that; they have left everybody in panic and utter chaos,” said Saliq Ahmad, another student.
Pertinently, the college administration in the advisory had said that it (the advisory) was issued in accordance with the instructions received from district administration Srinagar. However, DC Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal later in the Friday evening refuted to have issued such directions to the college administration and termed it as ‘miscommunication’.
In the meantime 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.
Long queues were also seen at petrol stations in Srinagar and other places as people were filling fuel tanks in panic. Some pumps had also run dry due to panic.