SRINAGAR: Amid continued unrest and shutdown in Kashmir, the separatist leaders spearheading the over four-month-long agitation in the Valley on Tuesday said tourists and yatris are welcome to visit Kashmir and invited them to visit the “paradise on earth and enjoy the hospitality of Kashmiri people”.
“From centuries, Kashmiris have been safeguarding and providing exemplary hospitality and safety to tourists and yatris as we have been taught hospitality, humanity and safeguarding the rights of guests by our great religion. Tourists and yatris, who intend to visit Kashmir, are most welcome,” said a joint statement issued by separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.
The three separatist leaders are spearheading the over four-month-long agitation in the Valley triggered by the killing of 21-year-old Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8.
Extending the wholehearted welcome to the tourists and yatris intending to visit Kashmir, the three leaders said, “Our religion Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have taught us to be kind with our guests and serve them and safeguard their rights at every cost. This is also embedded in our Kashmiri culture and ethics and that is why our hospitality has been exemplary throughout the history”.
They said millions of tourists from the world including India have been visiting Kashmir from centuries and enjoying the mesmerising beauty of “this paradise on earth” and also the unparallel hospitality of the Kashmiri people.
Kashmir has been witnessing shutdown since July 9. Barring weekend relaxations in last three weeks, the Valley has been witnessing shutdown.
The tourism sector has been worst hit by the ongoing unrest and shutdown and all hotels, guest houses and house boats are empty.
“Our history bears a witness that we have always respected, safeguarded and served our guests during hardest of times and worst calamities and have never shun this attribute of our national life,” the separatist leaders said.
Referring to 2008 agitation on Amarnath land row, they said, “When rightwing forces in Jammu led to the economic blockade of Kashmir including denying entry of life-saving drugs and baby-food to Kashmir, we replied this with our exemplary hospitality towards yatris and tourists, who were in Kashmir at that time.”
“We not only safeguarded them and provided them shelter but also served them and kept the doors of our homes and localities open to them,” they said adding the same was done during devastating floods of 2014.
Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik said everyone from the world including India is most welcome to Kashmir. “We invite them to come to Kashmir and enjoy our hospitality and the beauty of paradise on earth”.