Tourist arrivals in Kashmir not right barometer of normalcy: Omar Abdullah

"We have been saying that the situation (in Kashmir) is not normal. The militants have proved repeatedly that they can attack whenever they want to, " he said.
National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah
National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah (File | PTI)

SRINAGAR: National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah on Monday said tourism should not be linked to the security situation in Kashmir as tourist arrivals are not the right barometer of normalcy and this makes tourists a target.

The situation in the Valley is "not normal", Abdullah told reporters after visiting polling booths in Budgam.

The NC leader is contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Baramulla, where voting is underway.

"We have been saying that the situation (in Kashmir) is not normal. The militants have proved repeatedly that they can attack whenever they want to.

Unfortunately, a politician, an ex-sarpanch of the BJP, lost his life and two tourists were injured (in terrorist attacks)," the NC leader said, referring to Saturday's twin attacks in Shopian and Anantnag.

"I appeal to the government to talk less about normalcy because the situation is not normal and also talk less about tourism being an indicator of normalcy because when they link normalcy with tourism, they put tourists in danger," he said.

National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah
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Terrorists struck at two places in Kashmir on Saturday night, killing former sarpanch Aijaz Sheikh in Shopian's Hirpora and injuring a tourist couple, Farha and her husband Tabrez, from Rajasthan in Anantnag.

Abdullah said tourists came to the Valley even during his tenure as the chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir from 2009-14 "but we never said that lakhs of tourists came here and so everything is normal".

"By doing that, you are making the tourists a target. Our effort should be that they come here, enjoy their vacation and leave safely," he said.

On the BJP's claims that the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir has improved, Abdullah said the party should not make such claims and the credit for the little improvement should go to the people here.

"They (people) did not take law into their own hands (even) when the government left no stone unturned to harass them," he said.

On the polling, Abdullah said reports from many areas of the Baramulla constituency are very good.

"People are voting in huge numbers and that is what we expect from them. As a politician, I want more and more people to cast their votes, and as a candidate, I hope they vote for the NC and me in large numbers. We will get to know the decision of the people on June 4," he said.

Besides Abdullah, 20 candidates are in the fray from Baramulla.

Abdullah faces the biggest challenge from separatist-turned-politician and former minister Sajad Lone, who heads the People's Conference.

The blazing campaign trail witnessed the rivals going full throttle against each other. As many as 17. 37 lakh voters are eligible to exercise their franchise in the Baramulla Lok Sabha constituency.

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