India asks tourists and pilgrims to leave Kashmir

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Indian soldier killed in IoK
Observer Report

Srinagar

In an unprecedented move, India has decided to curtail the annual Amarnath Yatra, the Hindu pilgrimage, in the Kashmir Valley due to an unspecified security threat in the state.
In an urgent advisory, the J&K home ministry has asked all the tourists and Amarnath yatris to curtail their visit at the earliest and leave the valley immediately.
Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary (Home), issued the security advisory, saying pilgrims and tourists “may curtail their stay” and “return as soon as possible”.
“In the interest of safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible,” the advisory emphasised.
More than 10,000 personnel of central forces were ordered for the state a few days ago and they were in the process of reaching their posts. The reports of a further surge in troop deployment, that came Friday morning, was met with criticism. The state’s former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti noted that such moves will lead to the creation of panic and distress in the valley.
“Complete chaos on the steets of Srinagar. People rushing to ATMs, petrol pumps and stocking up on essential supplies. Is GOI (government of India) only concerned about the safety of yatris while Kashmiris have been left to their own devices?” she tweeted. Reacting to the news, former chief minister Omar Abdullah said: “Although this unprecedented order would seem to suggest a genuine fear of a massive terror strike directed at Amarnath ji yatris or/and tourists this will do nothing to dampen the sense of fear & foreboding that prevails in the valley at the moment.”
Meanwhile the fresh deployment of paramilitary troops and the sudden cancellation of Amarnath Yatra coupled with a spate of government orders taking stock of the food and other essential items in Kashmir has created a massive fear psychosis in the valley. Locals fear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government may be planning to either set aside a constitutional provision, Article 35A, or make a related announcement that would strip Kashmir of its special rights.

An Indian soldier was killed on Friday during a gunbattle with Kashmiri fighters amid panic among residents over reports of India’s deployment of thousands of more soldiers to the disputed region.
Police say fighting erupted on Friday after police and soldiers cordoned off a village in the southern Shopian area in occupied Kashmir on a tip that Kashmiri fighters were hiding there.
As the news of the fighting spread, anti-India protests and clashes broke out in solidarity with the Kashmiri fighters.
Panic has gripped occupied Kashmir since last week after India announced deploying at least 10,000 more soldiers to one of the world’s highest militarised areas. The troop build-up has sparked fears in occupied Kashmir that New Delhi is planning to scrap an Indian constitutional provision that disallows Indians to buy land in the Muslim-majority region.

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