Panic continues in Kashmir despite Guv's clarification

eople line up outside a petrol pump in Srinagar, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. An advisory asking tourists and Amar Nath Yatris to cut short their stay in Kashmir was put out by the army. (PTI Photo)

Panic, chaos, confusion and uncertainty continued in Kashmir for the second consecutive day on Saturday with National Institute of Technology, Srinagar suspending class work till further orders and authorities halting annual Machail Mata pilgrimage in hilly Kishtwar’s Paddar area.

At NIT Srinagar students from outside state were seen boarding buses in hurry to leave Kashmir. Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal said It said the decision to suspend classwork is the institute’s own.

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He said transportation was arranged upon requests from the NIT management which had received requests in this regard from distressed parents of students. Most of the students at NIT Srinagar are from outside state.

In another decision on Saturday, governor Satya Pal Malik led administration suspended the annual Machail Mata pilgrimage in hilly Kishtwar’s Paddar area adjoining Kashmir Valley.

An estimated 11,000 tourists, including yatris and over 200 foreign visitors, who were in the Valley, when the government issued advisory on Friday asking Amarnath yatris and tourists to cut short their stay and return as soon as possible in the wake of intelligence inputs of “specific threats” to the pilgrimage.

On Saturday, there was a huge rush at Srinagar Airport with tourists and yatris desperate to catch early flights back home. Airlines have waived cancellation charges and are reportedly arranging additional flights to cater the huge rush. Aviation regulator DGCA advised airlines to remain ready to operate additional flights from Srinagar if the need arises.

In recent days, a series of official orders - including one issued by the Railway Protection Force warning of a “crisis situation” - has triggered rumours that the New Delhi is planning to abrogate Jammu and Kashmir’s special status guaranteed by the Indian constitution.

On Friday night governor Malik said that “unnecessary panic” was being created by linking the curtailment of Amarnath yatra with other issues and requested political leaders to ask their supporters to maintain calm and do not believe in “exaggerated rumours.”

“A pure security measure is being mixed up with issues with which it has no connection. That is the cause of the panic,” he said.

However, despite clarification by the governor, the region’s shaken residents view the official orders and deployment of additional forces as yet another instance of the “psychological warfare” they say is being waged by New Delhi against them.

Apprehending deterioration in law and order situation, people were seen lining up at departmental stores in the city and elsewhere to stock up dry ration and essentials.

There is total chaos in markets in Srinagar, with grocery stores, petroleum retail outlets, medical shops, and ATMs witnessing the unprecedented rush of people, who want to stock up supplies with an apprehension that “something big” is about to happen.

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