Exposing the negative propaganda against Jammu & Kashmir, a report by the Government of India has confirmed that there has not been a single crime reported against tourists in the state in past two years. This is despite the presence of separatist militancy in Kashmir that has only increased in the past two years.
According to a report by ministry of home affairs (MHA), there has not been a single incident of crime against foreign tourists, including females, in Jammu and Kashmir while 284 such incidents have been reported during the period in other states of India.
MHA in its reports states that ‘public order’ and ‘police’ are state subjects as per the seventh schedule of the Constitution of India. As such, crime against tourists including foreign tourists is the primary responsibility of the state governments/union territories.
“However, with the efforts of the union ministry of tourism, a total number of 13 state governments/union territory administrations have deployed the tourist police namely Delhi, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh in one form or the other,” it adds.
It states that union ministry of tourism remains in a constant dialogue with state governments/union territory administrations, various tourism related institutions and stakeholders for drawing up strategies for development and promotion of tourism in the country.
The ministry of tourism along with all stakeholders, including the tourism departments of all states and UTs, have adopted the ‘code of conduct for safe and honorable tourism’ which is a set of guidelines to encourage tourism activities to be undertaken with respect for basic right like dignity, safety and freedom from exploitation of both tourists and local residents; in particular women and children.
“This MHA report is a positive for the tourism players of Kashmir who have been a victim of negative propaganda unleashed by vested interests. Several media outlets and vested political interests have been campaigning against Kashmir that the place is not safe for outsiders owning to the political situation in the area. But it is a proud reality for all of us that not a single tourist has been harmed here all these years despite the local residents dying almost daily in this conflict in ones and twos,” said a tourism official.
Since 2014, the Kashmir tourism sector is passing through turbulent times. In 2018, the number of tourists who visited Kashmir was lowest in recent years. Only 8.5 lakh tourists visited Kashmir in last year which included 50000 foreigners.
“Our hospitability is best. We opened our hotels for stranded tourists last week when the Airport was closed for a brief period. This report has again reiterated that Kashmir is the safest place in India for foreign tourists,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Chaya, Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Hoteliers Club.
Chaya said: “No matter what the situation in Kashmir is, but our tourists are always safe and welcome. Though outside news outlets are hell bent to defame us, our hospitality and warmth have always won over hatred.”