Srinagar, Oct 6: Perching on the deck of his Shikara, 34-year-old Rafiq Ahmad recalls last year’s autumn season when the Dal Lake was bustling with tourists. Such was the rush that he couldn’t find time to renovate his houseboat that required a whitewash. A year later Ahmad is at wits end how to make-up for the losses he suffered during the current festive season. “This was the season when we would earn some extra bucks. Every year tourist flow would witness a steep rise in festive season. The rush was such that houseboats would fall short of space to accommodate tourists,” Ahmad said.
Since August, 2 when government issued advisory for the tourists, houseboats, Shikaras and hotels across Kashmir are lying vacant.
Two months have passed, but there are no signs of tourism revival. This is despite the fact that only few days are left for Diwali and Dusshera holidays to start. During the festive season, high-end tourists from Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal used to spend Pooja holidays in Kashmir.
General Manager Heaven Tour and Travels and a member of Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK), Farooq Ahmad Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor that government advisory and communication clampdown are the main reasons for zero arrivals this festive season.
“We would normally witness 70 per cent booking during Diwali and Dusshera holidays. Currently, we can’t even access our emails to know the mood of our clients,” he said.
Bashir Ahmad Karnai, a prominent hotelier said it is for the first time in last one decade when hotels across Kashmir are without tourists.
“We never expected a situation like this at least in festive season. The occupancy is almost reduced to zero. Even some hoteliers have locked down their hotels,” he said.
Tourists, who were planning to spend Pooja vacation in Kashmir said the current situation have held them back. “We are eagerly waiting for the situation to improve. Most of Bengalis have moved to other places including Darjeeling and Sikkim to spend Pooja vacations,” said Arup Mukherjee, a Bengali backpacker in a telephonic conversation.
Shopian attack: Non-local apple trader battles for life at SMHS hospital
Srinagar: The 25 year old non- local apple trader, who suffered critical wounds in a suspected militant attack in Shopian on Wednesday, is battling for life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of SHMS hospital here.
Suspected militants Wednesday killed an apple trader and serious injured his associate at Trenz village of Shopian district. The slain was identified as Chander Preet Singh while his injured associate was identified as Sanjeev Kumar of Ferozpur Punjab
Doctors attending on Kumar said he has suffered serious wounds in his vital organs.
“He hassuffered severe chest and abdominal injuries. He was admitted in the hospital in a very hypovolemic shock due to the excessive loss of blood. A surgery was later conducted, which lasted for five hours,” a doctor at SMHS hospital told The Kashmir Monitor.
He said Kumar had severe liver and diaphragm laceration (tear) and injuries in the soft tissues of shoulder and arms.“We had to remove his large intestines. His condition is still critical. He is being constantly monitored by a team of doctors. He is currently on ventilator,” the doctor said.
Lone son of his parents, Kumar has been associated with the apple trade for the last two years.His family members said that he arrived in Kashmir two weeks ago to ship applesto outside the state Mandis.
“He would spend three months in Kashmir for business. Some two weeks before he came to Kashmir,” Kumar’s brother-in-law Rishi Doda told The Kashmir Monitor.
Doda said that Kumar had never faced any problem in Kashmir. “He was all praise for Kashmir. Even some days back we called him to return. He,however,assured us that nothing was wrong with the non-locals here,” he added.
No plan to resume prepaid services: Guv
Srinagar, Oct 17: Governor Satya Pal Malik on Wednesday said the matter of the three civilian deaths in Jammu and Kashmir was of grave concern, and claimed Pakistan’s hand in the killings.
The Valley has seen several bloody attacks since post-paid services were restored, more than three months after the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. Included in the list of casualties is two Punjab-based apple trader, a migrant worker from Chhattisgarh and a truck driver from Rajasthan.
“This is a matter of grave concern, poor people who are migrating to the state to earn a living are being killed like this,” Satya Pal sounded alarm bells. “This is happening on Pakistan’s directions to create disturbance in the state. We will not allow this to happen. We will not spare such people.”
The Governor said that there isn’t a plan to resume pre-paid mobile service since “Pakistani nationals would misuse this”. “We will start Internet services only when situation improves.”
Hours after the truck driver was shot and killed and his vehicle set ablaze, text messaging were blocked in Kashmir. According to reports, SMS service was halted to reduce the ability of militants to communicate.
Lockdown fallout: Anxiety, depression cases surge in Kashmir
Srinagar, Oct 15: Fifty-year-old Fatima (name changed) feels jitters when she recalls the night she saw an SOS from her younger brother flashing on the television news channel.
“Call me immediately,” flashed the message on the scroll of a TV channel. The world blackened out for Fatima when she read the message from her younger brother.
It was after four weeks post abrogation of state’s special status that she heard from her younger brother, who works in a private company in Middle East.
Crushed by apprehensions triggered by the sudden message on TV, Fatima developed frequent panic attacks, which landed her at the Government Psychiatric hospital, Rainawari.
“My wife kept on saying that something bad has happened to him. Despite our reassurances, she was bogged down by negative thoughts which became the reason for the panic attacks,” lamented her husband.
Moreover, he was not able to contact his brother-in-law as there was no functional land-line in the neighborhood. “Going to DC office was out of question given the severe restrictions from our side at that time,” he said
Similarly 45-year-old Tabassum (name changed) was hovered by the negative thoughts of her daughter’s bleak future which landed her in depression.
She hoped that her daughter will benefit from the 50 percent quota reserved for the female MBBS students.
After the abrogation of article 370, she apprehended that the Centre would do away with the quota, thus, crushing her daughter’s dreams of becoming a doctor.
“She cried very easily. Her recurrent question would be: Will the government revoke the quota?” said her sister.
A senior consultant at the Psychiatric hospital termed the abrogation of Article 370 as “precipitating” and “perpetuating” factor to the conflict that is already 30 decades old.
“So many Kashmiris studying and working outside couldn’t contact their family members. Those living in Kashmir couldn’t contact their near and dear ones outside the valley, or for that matter inside the vale. This heightened the anxiety levels,” he said
The doctor noted that only 5-10 percent of patients reported at the hospital in August as the patient inflow was impeded by the lockdown.
“In the beginning phase of the communication lockdown, we couldn’t see many patients at the hospitals. They couldn’t reach here due to restrictions. Our essential services were also impacted,” he said.
The doctor asserted that the long terms effects of the ongoing crisis will be worse. “There will be more of depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and acute stress disorders,” he said.