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Tourists wary of heading to Kashmir; Ask what will happen after Aug 27?

Srinagar, Aug 17: With Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hardening its stand over Article 35(A), the valley-based tourism players see the industry already taking a hit.

Article 35(A), empowering the state legislature to define permanent residents and provide special rights and privileges to them, has been challenged by certain individual’s and an NGO in the Supreme Court (SC).

On August 27, it is listed for hearing before a three judge bench.

Joint Hurriyat Leadership on Friday called for complete shutdown on August 26 and 27 against the possible tinkering with the Article.

General Secretary Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), Farooq Kathu, said they have been receiving queries from tourists from different parts of the country.

“Tourists from different states have been enquiring about the present situation and the conditions expected after August 27,” he said.

Secretary General Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association (KHARA), Tariq Mushtaq Mir, said a lesser number of tourists visited the valley in view of the hearing scheduled to be held later this month.

“The footfall, which used to be around 15%, has come down to zero. Maximum hotels are vacant. A few have nominal occupancy,” he said.

President Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF), Abdul Wahid Malik, said the situation would turn volatile in case the Article 35(A) was abrogated.

“Abrogation of Article 35 (A) would trigger public resentment, and the things will worsen for the ailing tourism industry,” he said.