SRINAGAR: A day after a tourist from Chennai was killed in stone pelting in the Valley, tourism industry stakeholders described the incident as the “darkest day” and said the murderer is not well-wisher of Kashmiris.
Police on Tuesday detained many people for questioning even as the incident evoked strong condemnation from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and separatists.
Hoteliers, travel agents, house boat owners, shikara wallas addressed a joint Press conference to condemn the incident.
“The death of a tourist in stone pelting is very unfortunate. It is the darkest day for tourism industry,” Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation president Abdul Wahid Malik said, adding the death would hit tourist inflow at a time when they were expecting good business from south India.
Hotels were witnessing 60-70 per cent occupancy and this incident is bound to have some effect on fresh arrivals, he said.
Malik said Narabal had always been problematic. “We had been telling government to sanitise the area and deploy additional security forces there for safe passage of tourist vehicles. But that did not happen”.
“Whosoever is involved in the incident, is not a well wisher of Kashmiris. He is inhuman and a cold blooded murderer,” said Ashfaq Sidiq, president Travel Agents Association of Kashmir.
Alleging that deliberate attempts were on to target tourism, he said it should be delinked from politics and treated like any other business. “Since parliamentary elections are taking place next year, we believe that Kashmir has become a playfield for any political party,” he said.
Deputy Inspector General of Police central Kashmir, VK Birdi told TNIE, “We have identified some people and are also probing certain people of Narabal, where the incident took place.” He said more arrests are expected as the investigation is going on.
Mehbooba Mufti said, “I have no words strong enough to condemn this tragic incident or even condole with the family”, and described it as an attempt to bulldoze the economy.
National Conference working president Omar Abdullah said, “Let’s try and wrap our heads around the fact that we stoned a tourist, a guest, to death while we glorify these stone-pelters & their methods”. He also lashed out at the government.“How much blood will have to be shed in Kashmir before the PM realises the gravity of the situation in J&K? ”