Panic grips Kashmir after Government asks yatris, tourists to leave

Kashmir remained on the edge on Friday 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,” an order issued by Principal Secretary, Home Department, Shaleen Kabra here read.

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.

The deployment of the troops and various orders gave rise to the speculations about some major decision in the offing regarding the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Apprehending deterioration in law and order situation, people were seen lining up at departmental stores in the city and elsewhere to stock up dry ration and essentials.

By the time, this report was filed; there was total chaos in all markets in Srinagar, with grocery stores, petroleum retail outlets, medical shops, and ATMs witnessing unprecedented rush of people, who were busy stocking up supplies with an apprehension that “something big” is about to happen.

Soon after the government issued the security advisory tourists holidaying in Kashmir started packing up their bags.  ” We have received large number of cancellations for coming days, whosoever was currently holidaying in Kashmir are packing their bags ready to leave, this is complete chaos,” said Bashir Ahmad, a hotelier.

Former chief minister and People’s Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti also took to twitter and wrote: “Complete chaos on the streets of Srinagar. People rushing to ATMs, petrol pumps & stocking up on essential supplies. Is GOI only concerned about the safety of yatris while Kashmiris have been left to their own devices?”

“There is something fishy, my mother forced me to buy grocery and rice which could atleast last for a month. But there is rush that it took me three hours to pile up supplies,” said Muhammad Qamran, who was busy hoarding supplies in his car at Zaina Kadal in old city.

At Karan Nagar, there were around 500 vehicles waiting to be refueled which led to traffic jam thus leading to chaos in the market.

“My mother is on dialysis. I have to take her for treatment twice a week, therefore I have to ensure that there is enough fuel in my car in case of any emergency,” said Bashir Ahmad, a local resident.

Not only people are thronging grocery and fuel outlets, but there was a huge rush in medical shops selling medicines and baby food items.

ATM kiosks were also burdened with rush of people trying to withdraw their money. At many places ATMs dried up after running out of cash.

Which tourist will hang around after seeing this order, says Omar

Former chief minister and National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah   on Friday reacted strongly to the security advisory on Friday asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir as soon as possible.

Omar in a series of tweets said, “Although this unprecedented order would seem to suggest a genuine fear of a massive terror strike directed at Amarnath ji yatris or/and tourists this will do nothing to dampen the sense of fear & foreboding that prevails in the valley at the moment,”.

The comments come after the Jammu and Kashmir administration asked Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to immediately cut short their stay in the Valley and return as soon as possible in the wake of intelligence inputs of “specific threats” to the pilgrimage. “Seriously? You think an official order telling tourists to leave immediately will not cause them to run from the valley as fast as they can? Which tourist will hang around after seeing this order. The airport & highway will be choked with people leaving,” he tweeted.