Panic grips Kashmir as Amarnath pilgrims, tourists told to leave state

Kashmir Amarnath Yatra Jammu Terror - The Federal
Amarnath yatra pilgrims at Bhagwati nagar base camp, in Jammu, Friday. (PTI Photo)

Residents of Kashmir started stocking up dry ration and essentials, fearing long law and order disturbance after the Jammu and Kashmir government issued an advisory, asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave the Valley.

“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 stated.

Also read: Govt cites terror threat, asks Amarnath pilgrims, tourists to leave Kashmir

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 speculations about some major decision in the offing regarding Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Kashmir Amarnath Yatra - The Federal
People line up outside a petrol pump in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

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. Petrol pumps also witnessed a huge rush of customers.

Kashmir divisional commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan, however, asked people not to believe rumours and contact the concerned officials for clarification on matters. He also said that there was no government order asking schools and educational institutions to shut down.

Earlier in the day, the Army said Pakistan-based terrorists are planning to target the Amarnath Yatra in the Valley. But security forces are up to the task to foil any such design, it added.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah questioned why tourists in Gulmarg were being asked to leave when only the Yatra was affected.

He said he had met many “important” people, but none were “able to tell me anything”. “Imagine the plight of your everyday Kashmiri who doesn’t know what to believe.”

Omar also retweeted a party tweet, questioning why the Governor Satya Pal Malik was “strangely silent” on the matter.

“Where is the Governor? Why is he not addressing people? Why is he allowing panic to spread unchecked? His government has issued an order that has caused chaos on the streets. When he has to make unfounded allegations he has a camera at his disposal, yet now he’s strangely silent,” the tweet read.

PDP chief and former CM Mehbooba Mufti also raised the matter, saying “there is an atmosphere of fear”. “I have never seen such panic. One one side, Governor Sahib says that the situation is normal. On the other side, deployment of additional forces is being done.”

“The PM talks of winning the hearts of people of J&K. Then, why are such rumours doing the rounds. The Amarnath yatris & tourists are being sent back. But, you are not thinking where the Kashmiris, people of Jammu and Ladakh will go?” she asked.

Also read: Mehbooba appeals to PM Modi not to tinker with J&K’s special status