Chaos has gripped Kashmir valley after a Friday advisory by the state government that asked the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to leave immediately. The annual Amarnath pilgrimage that was supposed to continue till August 15 has been halted after there were reports of terror threats on the pilgrims.
Sources said that nearly 15,000 Amarnath pilgrims are in the process of leaving the Kashmir Valley whereas a majority of the hotels, houseboats in various tourist locations across the valley were evacuated.
Although the Deputy Commissioner of Srinagar, Shahid Choudhary, said that no particular order was issued to institute for evacuation, there were reports of the non-local students at NIT, Srinagar leaving in hoards of buses for their respective hometowns after suspension of the classwork.
Meanwhile, nearly 3-4 lakh non-locals who engaged in labour jobs in the Valley were also panic-stricken and were seen arranging for tickets and other means to leave Kashmir, although no particular advisory was issued for them.
Kashmir awaits govt response
After the advisory issued by the government and deployment of large contingents of security forces at strategic locations in Kashmir, the locals were seen rushing to markets, petrol pumps, ATMs and banks to stock up essential supplies, food, cash. Security experts say that the prevailing situation may be because the government wants to implement the precautionary measure as a major policy decision on Kashmir by the Modi government may be announced on August 15.
There have been apprehensions that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government may abrogate Article 35 A that acknowledges special status to J&K and prevents the non-locals from purchasing any property in the state.
There has been no official word from the J&K administration or the central government over the sudden advisory that was issued and heavy deployment of forces. Sources close to the development told International Business Times, India that the central government was fearing a large scale suicide bombing attack (Fidayeen attack) on the Amarnath pilgrims in South Kashmir, which may have led to the enactment of the security measures. More than 700 pilgrims who paid the obeisance at the Amarnath shrine were airlifted by the choppers and were not allowed to travel on foot.
An all-party meeting was conveyed on Friday night, in which various valley-based mainstream political leaders including Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad lone and Shah Faesal participated. The leaders also met Governor Satya Pal Malik and sought a response from him so that the confusion ends. They also pledged to stand united against any attempt to rid the state of its special status.