Internet Lockdown Drives Out Tourists From Kashmir


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Srinagar: A number of tourists who had arrived from different parts of the country fled from Kashmir soon after the death of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani on Wednesday evening, Kashmir hoteliers said on Friday.

Wahid Malik, president Kashmir Hotels and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) told Kashmir Observer that the tourists were worried about the situation due to snapping of communication lines and many rushed towards the airport for the first flight.

“They were more worried about the communication blockade and maintain that their families will be worried back home since they won’t be able to talk to them,” Malik said.

Malik has also got reports from Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Gulmarg about the leaving of tourists and cancellation of booking due to the situation.

“I was expecting a group of 12 people to my hotel, however they canceled the booking on Thursday morning,” Malik who is the owner of Hotel New Park at Boulevard, Srinagar said, adding that “they told me that we aren’t worried about the situation but since the communication lines have been snapped, they wouldn’t be in able to stay in touch with their families,”

But Malik said, they are hopeful that the situation will be normal in a couple of days.

Tourism had suffered back to back setbacks following the lockdowns following abrogation of Article 370 and subsequent COVID-19 in Kashmir.

“As soon as I heard about the death of Geelani Sahab, I told my customers that phones and internet might be snapped in Kashmir,” said Mohammad Jehangir, a hotelier from Srinagar.

Jehangir said the hotel, which was occupied with tourists was deserted by Thursday morning.

A number of Shikarawalas could be seen idling, waiting for the customers to come, on the otherwise busy Boulevard road.

“Sab chelegaye kal (Everybody left yesterday)” said Mohammad Yaseen, a Shikarawalla on Ghat no 7.

Phones and internet services were snapped soon after the death of the Hurriyat leader on Wednesday.

Kashmir Police chief Vijay Kumar said the internet was shut down as a precautionary measure to prevent rumours.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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