Kashmir Remains On Tenterhooks

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Escpae to Safety! On Saturday scenes like this were witnessed all across tourist spots of Kashmir- KO Photo Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR — People on Saturday continued to queue up outside petrol pumps and stock up essentials, brushing off government’s clarification and request not to interpret Friday’s order, asking Amarnath yatris and tourists to leave Kashmir, in any manner that there is any threat to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

Eyewitnesses said that at least one hour before opening of business hours in the morning, people had started queuing up outside fuel stations. As the day progressed, the queues only became longer, even creating traffic snarls at several places.  The grocery shops were also thronged by the panic stricken people. The ATMs saw queues but not as long as were seen out at the petrol pumps.

The unease continued despite assurances by the government that there was no need to panic.

Commissioner Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan had said there was no need to panic and stock up essentials as safety and security of the people of the state was the governments responsibility.

Governor Satya Pal Malik also reiterated that paramilitary forces’ “movement” was to counter heightened threat perception.

Malik made the remarks during a meeting with a delegation of political leaders led by Omar Abdullah who apprised him about the obtaining situation in the Kashmir valley after the Government Advisory asking Amarnath Yatris and tourists to return as soon as possible. They also mentioned about the panic buying by people of essential commodities.

“Governor Malik informed the delegation that the security situation has developed in a manner which required immediate action.  There were credible inputs which were available to the security agencies regarding (militant) attacks on the Amarnath Yatra,” an official spokesman said here. “There has been intensified shelling on the LOC by Pakistan which was responded to effectively by the Army.  This was mentioned in the Press Conference yesterday afternoon by the Corps Commander of the Army and the DGP. Details of weapons and ammunition recovered were given. The seriousness of the threat required immediate action,” the governor added, according to the official statement.

It is in this context, he said, that the government had issued an advisory asking Yatris and tourists to return as soon as possible. “These are a vulnerable group of people who do not know the area and are extremely vulnerable to a (militant) or a fidayeen attack. It is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, Yatris and tourists have been asked to return. This is to ensure that no terrorist attack takes place on them,” he said, adding, “Therefore, security to its citizens has to be provided by the State, even at some inconvenience which is being done.”

Governor Malik also said that the state has no knowledge of any changes to constitutional provisions. “Therefore, no panic should be created by unnecessarily linking this security matter with all kinds of other issues. A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic. The Home Secretary and the Divisional Commissioner have clarified this yesterday.”

The Governor requested the political leaders to ask their supporters to maintain calm and not believe exaggerated and unfounded rumours being circulated all around.


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