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Highway closure means skyway robbery: Airfares to Kashmir increase by 400%

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Feb 13: Since Srinagar-Jammu highway has remained largely off or dangerous to tread on in 2019, the airline companies have taken complete advantage of it and increased the airfare to and fro Kashmir by more than 400 per cent.

This is despite the fact that Governor Satya Pal Malik, earlier this month, sought intervention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reduce the airfare after scores of Kashmiris were stranded in various states.

A cursory look at the airfare chart set by the airline companies for Delhi to Srinagar suggests the cost of air ticket has been hiked by another 20 to 30 per cent during this week.

 

The airfare from Delhi to Srinagar, which normally was between Rs 4000-5000 per passenger, now costs Rs 15000 to Rs 20,000.
Similarly, from Srinagar to New Delhi, the airfare ranges between Rs 7,000-15000 for the current week.

From Mumbai and Kolkata, the airfare to Srinagar is much higher than the cost of a one-way trip to nearby foreign countries.

For Mumbai to Srinagar, an air ticket sells at Rs 24,000 to Rs 35,000, while from Kolkata, a one-way air ticket costs more than Rs 20,000.
Interestingly, an air ticket to Dubai, Malaysia and Singapore currently would cost a traveller only Rs 12000 to Rs 18000.

The undue hike in the airfare is giving a tough time to stranded passengers at various places and tourists aspiring to visit the valley in the coming weeks.

Thousands of passengers, who are stranded at Jammu and face immense hardships, cannot afford the mounting airfare.

“A simple meal here costs over Rs 100. Even if we end up buying an air ticket, there is no surety whether or not the plane will take off on its scheduled date,” said Aamir Ahmad, a Srinagar based student, who is stranded in Jammu.

Tourism players too are aghast over the hike which they claim spoils the tourists’ plans to visit Kashmir.

“All the tourism players are currently busy with promotional activities in outsides states and countries. But our hard work goes in vain due to the authoritative approach of airline companies,” said Peerzada Fayaz Ahmad, a prominent tour operator.

Admitting the airfare was affecting the tourism of Kashmir, Director Tourism Nisar Ahmad Wani said they had a meeting with the officials of the airlines, wherein they were asked to control the fares.

“The meeting was called by the Advisor to Governor Khurshid Ganaie at Director of Tourism office. A committee was formed to check the hike in airfare. The Advisor to Governor told the officials to regulate the airfare,” he said.


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Azad on Jharkhand lynching: Keep new India with you, give us old India

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New Delhi, Jun 24: Coming down heavily on the government over recent incidents of lynching and crime in Jharkhand, leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad on Monday said the state has become a factory of lynching and violence, “requesting” Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “give us our Old India where there was love, culture.”

“Dalits and Muslims are killed there every week. The PM, we are with you in the fight of ‘Sabka saath sabka vikas’, but it should be there for people to see it. We can’t see it anywhere,” Azad said in Rajya Sabha.

“I request you to keep the New India to yourself and give us our Old India where there was love, culture. Hindus used to feel the pain when Muslims and Dalits used to get hurt. When something used to get into the eyes of Hindus, Muslims and Dalits used to shed tears for them,” he added.

 

“In Old India, there was no hatred, anger or lynching. New India is one where humans are enemies of each other. You won’t be scared of animals in a jungle, but you’ll be scared of humans in a colony. Give us India where Hindus, Muslims,Sikhs and Christians live for each other,” he said.

In yet another lynching incident, a Muslim man was beaten up mercilessly for over 18 hours on the suspicion of theft in Jharkhand’s Kharsawan district on Saturday. The 24-year-old victim, identified as Tabrez Ansari, was attacked by a mob on June 18 and was later handed over to the police. He had been in the judicial custody since June 18 and was taken to a hospital on June 22 after his condition deteriorated. On the same day, Ansari succumbed to his injuries at the hospital.

Several videos of the incident emerged on social media show a man hitting Tabrez brutally with a wooden stick while forcing him to chant “Jai Shri Ram” and “Jai Hanuman”. The videos of the Jharkhand mob lynching case have gone viral on social networking sites ever since the incident came to the light.

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GoI approves amendments to give more teeth to NIA

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jun 24: The Union Cabinet is learnt to have approved a proposal to amend two laws to give more teeth to the NIA in probing ‘terror’ cases in India and abroad, sources said Monday.

Separate bills will be introduced in Parliament in the coming days to amend the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, they said.

The amendments will also allow the NIA probe cybercrimes and cases of human trafficking, sources aware of the proposal said.

 

Amendment to Schedule 4 of the UAPA will allow the NIA to designate an individual suspected to have ‘terror links as a terrorist’. As of now, only organisations are designated as ‘terrorist organisations’.

The NIA was set up in 2009 in the wake of the Mumbai attack that had claimed 166 lives.

Since 2017, the Union Home Ministry has been considering the two laws to give more power to the NIA to meet fresh challenges, the sources pointed out.

Another proposal to introduce a bill to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians could not be taken up Monday.

A similar bill had lapsed following the dissolution of the 16th Lok Sabha last month.

“The agenda of the Law Ministry stands postponed,” a functionary said.

As of now, overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies they are registered.

The Bill seeks to give them the option of proxy voting, which is as of now available to service personnel only.

Another proposal to amend the Representation of the People Act related to the spouses of service voters could not be taken up on Monday.

As of now, an armyman’s wife is entitled to be enrolled as a service voter, but a woman army officer’s husband is not, according to the provisions in the electoral law.

The bill proposes to replace the term ‘wife’ with ‘spouse’, thus making the provision gender-neutral. Members of the armed forces, central armed police forces, personnel of state police forces posted outside their state and employees of the Centre posted outside India are eligible to be enrolled as service voters.

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Youths click selfies, walk alongside Leopard in Kishtwar

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Srinagar, Jun 24: Pointing towards the increasing man-animal conflict is J&K, a video that went viral on Monday shows a few youth carelessly walking right alongside a leopard on a tarred road while clicking photos and videos in some mountainous region.

The incident reportedly took place in Chingam area of Kishtwar district. The video shows at least three youth audaciously ambling near the leopard that, surprisingly, isn’t aggressive.

The incident comes to the fore      days after days after two leopards were spotted in residential areas of Budgam and Srinagar.

 

Deputy conservator of forests, wild life division, Kashmir, Rouf Zargar had told The Kashmir Monitor that one female leopard and an adult cub were spotted at Ompora, Budgam.

“They were spotted in the adjacent villages of Budgam and Airport. We are doing our best to trace them. Till the time we catch those, people should refrain from moving out during nights and in the wee hours,” he said.

There has been a spike in man-animal conflict in the last few years with several incidents of attacks by bears and leopards taking place in multiple areas of the valley.

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