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Highway uncertainty must end once for all, make air-travel convenient; improve transport system: Stakeholders to Parliamentary delegation

KCCI chief demands accountability, punishment for officials who fail to meet deadlines, Houseboat owners seek end to skyrocketing air fares, better road connectivity, transport system; United Tourism Forum advocates financial package for revival of tourism

Abid Bashir

Srinagar, Jan 21: Various stakeholders of Kashmir’s tourism sector Thursday urged the visiting Parliamentary delegation to put a word across at New Delhi to ensure highway uncertainty ends in the Valley once for all and that the air-travel is made more convenient with genuine fares so that tourism picks up in the region.

The stakeholders also demanded better roads and road connectivity if Government of India wants to give Kashmir tourism a boost stating that frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway is the main reason for “mess” in Valley at a time when tourism needs a push.

Talking to news agency-KNO, after meeting the delegation, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, Industries (KKCI) President Sheikh Ashiq Hussain said: “We put across our view point before the committee and we are hopeful that they will take our pleas forward. We demanded end to the Srinagar-Jammu highway closure once for all. The highway closure triggers mess across the Valley. 

As soon as the highway gets closed, the Air fares goes high. We urged the MPs to ensure that air travel is made convenient so that it will become easier for everyone to travel. See despite repeated promises by the previous regimes and officials on improving the highway condition, we see closure of this only road link again and again. We demand there should be an accountability and punishment to the agencies and officials who fail to meet the deadlines.”

Among the visiting parliamentary delegation, MoS in PMO Dr Jitendera Singh and NC chief and sitting MP Dr Farooq were also present.

Speaking after meeting the delegation, president Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association Hameed Wangnoo said: “We explained the series of issues confronting the houseboat owners. We also presented a memorandum. Every year such delegations come, but so far noting except assurance is what we get.

Lets hope this time, our demands are met. We demanded a direct rail link between Srinagar and Jammu and raised the air-fare. We told them that Srinagar-Delhi airfare is so high that a tourist would think twice about visiting Kashmir. When highway gets closed, air-fares go sky-rocket, which is injustice.”

All J&K Shikara Union President Ghulam Ahmed Kolu said that they explain the ill plight of Shikara owners to the MPs stating that all the promises made to them turned out to be hollow. “We have now demanded soft loans to revive our business so that tourists enjoy Shikara rides in Dal and Nigeen lakes,” he said.

Chairman United Tourism Forum Manzoor Ahmed Pakhtoon, who also met visiting delegation, told KNO said that they briefed the MPs about the issues confronting tourism, culture and transport. “We told the MPs that tourism has suffered since past 30 years. We have been frequently telling the GoI about the series of problems the tourism sector is facing.

We told the delegation that people associated with tourism are on the verge of starvation and grant-in aid or a financial package was what we demanded strongly for tourism revival in Kashmir,” he said. “We also raised the houseboat extinction issue as from 2500 houseboats, the present number is just 950.”

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‘Militant associate’ arrested in Kupwara; 10 grenades, 182 bullets recovered

(Asian News Hub) – Army and police have recovered ten grenades and 182 rounds of Ak-47 rifle from a militant associate who was arrested in Kralpora area in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, official sources said on Tuesday.

They said army 160 Territorial Army and SOG Kralpora arrested the “militant associate” Abdul Ahad Lone based on specific information. “10 grenades and 182 Ak-47 rounds” have been recovered from his possession.They said middle-aged man was associated with Al-Badr formerly.

A police officer confirmed the arrest and said that further investigations are underway.

GNS

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Three unidentified militants killed in Anantnag

(Asian News Hub) – Three unidentified militants have been killed in an encounter that raged between government forces and militants in Vailoo area of Kokernag belt in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.

A senior police officer told that three unidentified militants have been killed whose identification is being ascertained while as operation is on in the area.

He said the militants turned down repeated surrender offers given to them by government forces.

Earlier, an official said that a joint team of Police, Army’s 19 RR and CRPF launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.

He said that as the joint team of forces approached towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon them, which was retaliated, triggering an encounter.

Pertinently, 46 militants have been killed in J&K so far this year and most of them belong to Shopian district.

KNO

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Militant killed in an ongoing encounter at Anantnag

(Asian News Hub) – One militant has been killed in an ongoing encounter that raged between government forces and militants in Vailoo area of Kokernag belt in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.

A senior police officer told that one militant has been killed whose identification is being ascertained while as operation is on in the area.

Earlier, an official said that a joint team of Police, Army’s 19 RR and CRPF launched a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) on specific information about the presence of militants in the area.

He said that as the joint team of forces approached towards the suspected spot, the hiding militants fired upon them, which was retaliated, triggering an encounter.

Pertinently, 44 militants have been killed in J&K so far this year and most of them belong to Shopian district.

KNO

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