CHANDIGARH: Rising tension between India and Pakistan has hit tourism in Punjab's border district of Amritsar, with the per day pilgrim count at the iconic Golden Temple witnessing a steep fall by up to 25 per cent. "On an average, anywhere between 80,000 to 90,000 pilgrims including foreigners visit Sri Darbar Sahib daily. During the past few days, there has been a decline in this figure by almost 25 per cent," Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar's manager, Sulakhan Singh said today.
Asked to specify the reason behind the sudden decline in pilgrims during the past week, he said, "The tension on the border (with Pakistan) appears to be main one." He said during festivals like Diwali, birth anniversaries of the Sikh Gurus and other important events and holidays, the daily pilgrim count varies between 3 to 4 lakh.
Singh said though the reason for drop in number of pilgrims was mostly due to escalating tensions between the two nations, some people could have stayed away due to the ongoing harvesting season. The falling pilgrim count has also naturally led to a fall in the use of food material for the langar (community kitchen). "On daily basis, 60-65 quintals of flour is used as against the 50 quintals being used now," he said.
With public viewing of the Retreat ceremony at the Attari-Wagah joint check post also being suspended for the time being, tourism in Amritsar has been adversely affected. Punjab shares a 553-km border with Paksitan and there are six districts in the state, including Amritsar, which lie close to the International Border (IB).
People in nearly 1,000 villages falling within a 10 km-radius of the IB were asked to be evacuated following an advisory by the Centre, apprehending retaliation from Pakistan after Indian Army carried out surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) recently.