|Tuesday, May 30, 2000,
Militants out to
spoil govt plan
JAMMU, May 29 — Militants seem determined to sabotage the government plan to lure tourists to the valley. Sources said the militants had sent threat letters to senior functionaries of the Tourism Department.
These letters warn officials of the department against motivating tourists to visit the valley. It had been conveyed to these officials that as “jehad” for the liberation of Kashmir was on, there was no room for boosting tourist traffic to the valley.
The sources said after sending threat letters to the Tourism Department functionaries the militants had carried out rocket attacks at two places in the last two days. One rocket was fired on a taxi stand just outside the tourist reception centre in which two persons were killed and nine others were injured yesterday. Today another group of militants fired a rocket which hit the roof of Welcome Hotel on the boulevard. Two persons were injured in the attack
In the past two months Welcome Hotel has been the hub of tourist activities. These two incidents coupled with threats to Tourism Department official indicated that militants wanted to wreck the tourist season when the state government and other agencies had spent more than Rs 1 crore on boosting tourist traffic to the valley. As part of the tourism promotion programme various state and central agencies besides travel agencies had booked cine stars and other film stars to be in Srinagar to show that Kashmir continued to be the most favoured tourist resort in India.
It was last year that tourist traffic to the valley touched a new record during the past 10 years. The occupancy rate in hotels and houseboats was 100 per cent and it lasted for a brief period when the Kargil war affected the tourist flow.
The separatists seem to be against tourism promotion because they fear that if the tourist traffic picked up again, more than 30,000 visitors having visited the valley in the past four months, it could be construed as return of normalcy in the state.
However, government sources said the militants were divided over the issue related to the tourism promotion work in the valley.
While one set of militants wanted the tourist traffic to the valley to get totally disrupted so that people were forced to support anti-India armed campaign, other militant outfits are for the steady growth of tourist traffic which could help people to earn their livelihood. This set of militants had entered into a secret pact with various hoteliers and houseboat owners which encouraged all those connected with the tourist trade to announce heavy reduction in room rents.
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