Kashmir: Blockade Continues, but Tourists to Be Allowed From Thursday

Governor Satya Pal Malik took the decision after holding a 'situation-cum-security review' meeting with advisors.

New Delhi: More than two months after an advisory asked all tourists in Jammu and Kashmir to leave the state in the lead up to the August 5 decision to dilute Article 370, the state’s governor Satya Pal Malik on Monday directed it to be lifted.

The advisory was issued on August 2 because of an apparent “terror threat”. Locals believe that the order was issued to ready the ground for the continuing blockade in the Valley after the August 5 constitutional changes.

On Monday, the governor directed the withdrawal of the advisory with effect from October 10. The order was issued after he held a “situation-cum-security review” meeting with advisors and the chief secretary in Srinagar.

The state administration had on August 2 issued a security advisory asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir as soon as possible. While this order has been lifted, restrictions on movement and communication remain in the Valley.

Also Read: US Congress Committee Urges India to Lift Kashmir Communication Blackout

A spokesperson for the governor’s office also claimed that during the past six weeks security restrictions in “most parts of Jammu and Kashmir” have been lifted. This statement comes even as several political leaders, activists and civilians continue to be in detention or house arrest.

Other decisions taken by the governor include opening 25 internet kiosks in each district to facilitate the public and government departments and monitoring attendance in government offices.

The governor was also informed that as Block Development Council (BDC) elections, scheduled to be held on October 24, are party-based, delegations of parties are being allowed to meet detained party presidents once so that they can decide on candidates.

The spokesman said assistant returning officers and assistant electoral registration officer have been provided mobile phones to ensure smooth conduct of elections.

Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik. Photo: Twitter/@ANI

Mehbooba Mufti refuses to meet PDP delegation

According to reports, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti said that the situation in Kashmir is “bigger than party issues” and refused to meet a delegation of party members. Mufti is among several high-profile politicians to be kept under detention since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.

The party said on Monday that the meeting had been deferred due to some members from Jammu not being able to make it for the 11 am appointment in Srinagar. However, reports said that Mufti “is in distress” and had refused to meet the delegation because “the situation in Kashmir is bigger than any party matter at the moment and that she does not wish to become an international prop”.

On Twitter, her official account said: “No meeting between Miss Mufti & PDP Jammu leaders in Srinagar tomorrow as reported by media.” The account is being run by Mufti’s daughter Iltija Javed and drew a comparison between the situation in Kashmir and Mumbai’s Aarey colony after the Supreme Court Monday restrained authorities from cutting any more trees.

“Glad that activists were able to stop felling of trees at Aarey. One wonders why Kashmiris have been deprived of the very same right to free speech & expression. GOI claims they are now at par with other Indians but truth is they’ve been stripped of even fundamental rights.”

(With PTI inputs)