‘Tourism Hotspot’

JAMMU and Kashmir has turned into “a tourism hotspot from a terrorism hotspot” and the security forces have gained “complete control” on terrorism in the union territory, the year-end review by the Ministry of Home Affairs states. The review reiterates the words of the national general secretary of the BJP, Tarun Chug. Speaking recently at a press conference in Srinagar, Chug said the BJP had transformed Kashmir from a centre of terrorism into a tourist destination. Chug was referring to the boom in tourism in the union territory over the last year. More than 20 lakh tourists, including 3.65 lakh Amarnath yatris and over ten thousand foreigners, visited Kashmir during 2022.

The MHA review also highlights the progress made in J&K over the last year on economic and security fronts.  The union territory, the report said, witnessed a 54 percent reduction in terrorist incidents, 22 percent drop in recruitment of militants and 84 percent decline in the deaths of security forces. In real terms, the militancy related violence has decreased from 417 incidents in 2018 to 229 in 2021 while the number of slain security personnel had reduced from 91 in 2018 to 42 in 2021.

On the development front, the report says that the BJP government at the centre has brought an investment of Rs 56,000 crores in just three years. Under the Prime Minister’s Development Package in Jammu, the report mentions, J&K got about 63 projects in hydroelectricity at a cost of Rs 80,000 crore.

It is true that J&K has gone through a makeover of sorts over the last three years, albeit the first two years were largely lost to Covid-19 pandemic. However, the last year was different: not only did the pandemic abate after the Omicron wave in the first three months of the year, the peace also largely held. That made it possible for the businesses to find their footing again and also for tourism to thrive. According to the tourist officials, the number of tourists Kashmir received this year is the highest so far, beating by far even the pre-turmoil period record. This has generated employment for the thousands of people who had lost their jobs during Covid pandemic. Going forward, the situation looks set to improve further. But Dangri village incident is a sobering reminder that peace in Kashmir can’t be taken for granted.  Here’s hoping that 2023 makes J&K a truly peaceful place.

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