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Tourists prefer Himachal, Uttarkhand over Kashmir

Firdous Hassan

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Srinagar, Jun 17:  Tremors of the Pulwama fidayeen attack are being felt by Kashmir’s fledgling tourism sector with tourists preferring Himachal Pradesh and other hill stations to escape the heatwave in the country this summer.

Barring Kashmir, all the hill stations including Mussoorie and Nainital in Uttarakhand, Shimla and Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Darjeeling in West Bengal, and Gangtok in Sikkim are bursting at seams with tourists this summer.

Reports pouring-in from neighboring Himachal Pradesh reveal that more than 95 per cent of 3000 registered hotels and 1,340 registered home-stays are booked this summer.

 

A travel agent of Manali said nearly 2,000 tourists arrive at the hill station daily. “The number mostly touches 4,000 on weekends. Sometimes hotels run out of capacity to accommodate the visitors”, he said.

Huge influx of tourists has led to the frequent traffic jams in different hill stations. ATMs too are running out of cash as tourists make beelines to withdraw money for daily expenditure.

Shirgul Travels, a prominent travel agency in Himachal Pradesh, said the tourist flow in Shimla and Manali has been higher this summer compared to previous years.

Chaman, an official at the travel agency, said the uncertainty in Kashmir could be the reason for the huge tourist influx in Himachal Pradesh this summer.

“Shimla and Manali is completely sold out for June. During weekends, the flow of visitors’ increase manifold,” he said.

An official at Himachal Tips LLP Company, Shimla, said tourists prefer Himachal Pradesh because of the security reasons.

“Tourists feel much safer and secure here. Himachal has emerged as popular destination for tourists worldwide,” said Vicky Rapta, an official at the travel agency.

Besides secure environment, cheaper tariff at hotels and homestays was another attraction for tourists from Gujarat, Kolkatta and Maharashtra to prefer Himachal Pradesh over Kashmir.

Post Pulwama attack in February, a negative campaign was unleashed by some international travel agencies and netizens to dissuade tourists from visiting Kashmir. The campaign sounded a proverbial death knell to fledgling tourism sector of the valley.

Travel agencies have been promoting Himachal Pradesh in North India, Ooty, Kodaikanal and Munnar in South India to keep the tourists off Kashmir.

Coupled with higher airfare and negative publicity by national media, tourism sector is gasping for breath in Kashmir.

“Currently the airfare is going through the roof in Kashmir.  And it becomes relatively cheaper for people to drive to Himachal from nearby states.  Plus the negative campaign by some national news channels is making things worse ,” president Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Ashfaq Ahmad Dugg said.


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In this day and age! Five JK districts have NO blood banks

Nisar Dharma

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Five districts in Jammu and Kashmir do not have the facility of blood banks thus presenting the sorry state of basic health infrastructure in the state.
The information was Friday revealed by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.
The five districts – Bandipora, Ganderbal, Shopian, Samba, Reasi – share the poor record with 76 others in India.
As per Government of India policy, each district has to have at least one blood bank.
“Public Health, being a State subject, it is the primary responsibility of the State Government to ensure the establishment of Blood Banks as per their need,” the Minister said in his reply.
Lack of blood banks can be the deciding factor between a person’s life and death especially in J&K, which witnesses freak road accidents now and then killing more people in the state than the political conflict.
Such is the paucity of blood that the attendants of patients admitted at tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar have to, at times, resort to crowd-sourcing asking people to donate blood at the eleventh hour.
Like J&K, Meghalaya and Bihar too don’t have blood banks in at least five districts, followed by Telangana, Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand respectively, wherein there are no blood banks in four districts each.
The northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh tops the list with 14 districts of not having blood banks. This was followed by Manipur wherein 12 districts, and Nagaland wherein nine districts do not have blood banks.
A total of 3,108 licensed blood banks are established in the country, with Maharashtra being on top with 333 blood banks, followed by Uttar Pradesh with 327 blood banks in the state.
In Gujarat, there are 153 blood banks and the national capital Delhi has 60 blood banks.

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Cop guarding Mehbooba’s kin shot dead

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Unidentified gunmen Friday afternoon shot dead a Personal Security Officer (PSO) of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and Mehbooba Mufti’s cousin brother Sajad Mufti outside the shrine in Baba Mohalla area of Bijbehara in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The slain cop was identified as Constable Farooq Ahmad of Dirpora Khiram. A police official said that he was attacked by militants at Ziyarat Baba Naseer-ud-din Gazi in Bijbehara during Friday prayers.
Farooq was standing guard outside the shrine when he was shot dead by the gunmen.
The former chief Minister’s cousin brother was offering prayers in Masjid at the shrine when his PSO was shot dead.
The cop was immediately rushed to the Sub District Hospital Bijbehara for treatment where doctors declared him dead on arrival.
Reports said the gunmen also decamped with the service rifle of Ahmad.
Meanwhile, police paid tributes to the slain cop and expressed solidarity with his bereaved family. “We stand by his family at this critical juncture,” Kashmir Zone Police said in a tweet.
The wreath laying ceremony for the slain cop was held at District police Line (DPL) Anantnag.
Police officers led by Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, Swayam Prakash Pani laid floral wreaths on his mortal remains and paid tributes to the cop. (KNS)
Senior police officers including IGP Kashmir, SP Pani, DIG SKR, SSP Anantnag and other officers from CAPF laid floral wreaths on the mortal remains and paid rich tributes to the slain cop.
Farooq is survived by old aged father, brother, wife, 12 years old son Mohsin Farooq, seven year old Faisal and two year old Zaid Farooq.
“We pay our rich tributes to the martyr for his supreme sacrifice made in the line of duty. We stand by his family at this crucial juncture,” a police spokesperson said.

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3 arrested for abusing minor girl inside Dal: Police

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 19: Police Friday said it has arrested three individuals involved in physically abusing a minor girl inside Dal Lake.
A police spokesperson said that police Station Nigeen received a complaint that a minor girl has been physically abused inside Dal Lake in Hazratbal area.
“Consequently Case FIR No. 65/2019 under relevant sections of law was registered in Police Station Nigeen and investigation was initiated,” the spokesperson said.
During the course of investigation, the spokesperson said, police arrested two persons identified as Tawheed Ahmad Mir son of Showkat Ahmad Mir and Ehsan-ul-haq son of Showkat Ahmad Yatoo both residents of Sadrabal.
However, the third accused managed to escape taking advantage of deep waters, police added.
“A special team under the supervision of SP Hazratbal arrested third person after strenuous efforts. He has been identified as Bilal Ahmad Dar alias Kila son of Ghulam Nabi Dar resident of Dargah. The prompt action of police and the arrest of all the three accused in the heinous crime within 24hrs was appreciated by the community members,” the spokesperson added.

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