South Asian Insider
Tourist death in J&K: Take relook at amnesty to stone pelters, JCCI president appeals to Centre
Pointing out that tourism is the backbone of the state's economy as it keeps the kitchen fire stoked for most Kashmiris in particular, he said any attempt to target tourists would mean hitting the economy and livelihood of every common man. The death of a tourist from Chennai in attack by stone pelters in Kashmir evoked widespread criticism in Jammu, with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asking its own government in the state to deal with stone pelters with an iron hand even as traders and industrialists sought a review of the decision granting amnesty to them. Expressing grave concern over the incident, BJP national vice-president and incharge of party affairs in the state Avinash Rai Khanna said stone pelting harms economic activities in Srinagar, adding that the attack came at a time when the tourist season was just about to commence in the Valley. Also Read: ‘Incident to impact tourism in valley’, J&K CM calls all-party meeting tomorrow He asked the government “to be cautious in view of the forthcoming Amarnath yatra and instead of the soft peddling approach, it must deal with a firm hand with stone pelters”. Such incidents tarnish the image of a common Kashmiri, besides shattering peace in general and affect normal life in particular, he said. The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Rakesh Gupta here on Tuesday expressed anguish over the death of a tourist and injuries to a local Kashmiri girl in attack by stone pelters in the Valley, asking both the Centre and the state government to take a relook into its decision to grant amnesty to stone pelters. “The Chamber also feels that the amnesty given to the stone pelters was a great gesture by both the state as well as government of India, but it now needs to be relooked at,” said Gupta in a statement issued here. He also regretted that crores of rupees sincerely spent by the government on road shows to promote tourism has all gone down the drain following this attack. “The JCCI feels that J&K is known for the hospitality all over the world and guests coming in are always treated as next to god,” he said in a statement issued here, adding that “it is a matter of great concern that a leisure tourist has been targeted for the first time in the history.” Also Read: Tamil Nadu tourist killed in stone-pelting on the road to Gulmarg Pointing out that tourism is the backbone of the economy of the state and it keeps the kitchen fire stoked for most Kashmiris in particular, he said any attempt to target the tourists would mean hitting the economy and livelihood of every common man. The Chamber president appealed to people to not politicise the issue to score political brownie points and urged mainstream political parties and joint resistance movement leaders to rise above different ideologies, agendas and party politics to come together and ensure restoration of calm and a sense of security on the streets of Kashmir. A joint appeal from all is the dire need of the hour to the youth to shun path of violence, he added. Meanwhile, senior vice-president of state Congress and former minister Sham Lal Sharma expressed concern over granting of amnesty to stone pelters and rehabilitation of surrendered militants. The possibility of these stone pelters who attacked tourists being from among those having been granted amnesty cannot be ruled out, he added. Describing amnesty to stone pelters as a “suicidal move” by BJP-PDP coalition government, he said it has instead of helping restore normalcy further deteriorated the situation in the Valley. He attributed the ongoing violence in Valley to announcements of incentives and amnesty by the state government, accusing BJP of having totally surrendered before its coalition partner for the sake of power. Shri Ram Sena president Rajiv Mahajan condemned stone pelting on tourists in the Valley, saying that such incidents are not conducive to the growth of tourism in Kashmir. He expressed sympathy to the bereaved family and prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul.
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