India to permit Hindu pilgrims to Kashmir regardless of coronavirus threat

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Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have determined to permit Hindu pilgrims to go to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath – a call Kashmiri analysts say contradicts the federal government’s coronavirus lockdown coverage.The annual Amarnath Yatra (journey), which receives a whole lot of 1000’s of pilgrims from throughout India, will probably start on July 21, however this 12 months it has been shortened to 2 weeks as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which manages the yatra, mentioned solely 500 Hindu pilgrims a day could be allowed to undertake the journey to the Himalayan cave temple of the Hindu god Shiva, located in southern Kashmir’s picturesque Pahalgam city.
Last August, the pilgrimage was minimize quick simply earlier than the federal government’s resolution to strip Indian-administered Kashmir of its particular standing that had been assured by Article 370 of Indian structure.
More than 300,000 devotees visited the cave positioned at 3,888 meters (12756 toes) above the ocean stage final 12 months.
Earlier this week, the native administration, which works instantly below India’s home ministry, issued two simultaneous orders: locking down components of Srinagar, the principle metropolis within the area, and permitting vacationers from exterior to travel by air to the scenic Himalayan area.
But analysts in Kashmir have expressed scepticism over the federal government resolution to permit the motion of vacationers and pilgrims as different components of Kashmir have been ordered into lockdown to examine the coronavirus’s unfold.
Gowhar Geelani, a political commentator, advised Anadolu Agency that the chronology of a number of authorities decrees issued since July four demonstrates the federal government has causes “other than health concerns of Kashmiris” behind these orders. Authorities reimposed a lockdown on Monday in components of Indian-administered Kashmir, together with Srinagar, following a surge in coronavirus instances [Mukhtar Khan/AP Photo] Geelani mentioned that, earlier this month, the authorities issued an order prohibiting all “political, social, academic and religious functions and other large gatherings and congregations” in Kashmir.
This was adopted by an order on July eight to open parks to the general public. The date coincided with the anniversary of the dying of insurgent commander Burhan Wani, an essential determine within the rebel in opposition to Indian management of Kashmir and seen domestically as a martyr. Pro-independence leaders had known as for a strike to mark his killing in 2016. “Add to these events the upcoming first anniversary of August 5, when Kashmir was stripped of special political status; one can clearly see a pattern. They create false COVID-19 alarms to pave the way for these contradictory and hypocritical diktats. Is coronavirus religion-specific? If a pilgrimage of one religious group is okay, why are other gatherings prohibited?” Geelani mentioned.
Sheikh Ashiq, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, advised Anadolu Agency the orders had “created a lot of confusion”. “People are bewildered. Many told me that even the areas not notified as trouble spots in the new order were out of bounds for people. The government must come clear on these orders,” mentioned Ashiq. “I wonder how the government expects tourism to work under a lockdown,” he mentioned.
India on Thursday reported greater than 32,000 new coronavirus instances and 606 extra deaths, elevating its tally to 968,876 instances and 24,915 fatalities. The precise numbers, like elsewhere globally, are probably far larger as a consequence of restricted testing and poor surveillance, specialists say. ‘Double requirements’
The authorities’s announcement permitting restricted vacationer exercise in Kashmir additionally raised eyebrows as a result of hours earlier than the order, officers had requested native vacationers to instantly vacate Pahalgam, some of the visited vacationer spots within the Muslim-majority area. “A tourist is a tourist, be it local or someone from outside,” mentioned Ashiq. “You can’t have two sets of standards.”
The authorities order additionally mentioned resort homeowners have to rearrange vacationers’ travel to native websites. Upon arrival on the area’s airport in Srinagar, vacationers will likely be required to endure a coronavirus check. Pending the outcomes, a vacationer has to remain in a self-booked resort. Those who check constructive for COVID-19 will likely be admitted to native well being services. Sheikh Ashiq, president of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, advised Anadolu Agency these orders have “created a lot of confusion” [Mukhtar Khan/AP Photo] “This is absurd. I have to arrange for the travel of a tourist while my local taxi driver would face hassles and security barricades while driving on Srinagar roads without permission. Why would I risk hosting a tourist until his test results are out? And if a spike in coronavirus cases has necessitated a lockdown, why burden healthcare with patients from outside?” mentioned Ali Muhammad Dar, a hotelier in Srinagar.
Ashok Kaul, a consultant of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), advised Anadolu that whereas the lockdown was necessitated by an increase within the variety of virus instances, the choice to restart tourism actions was taken retaining in view the native financial system. “There is nothing political in this. You have to give work to some hands. You can’t lock down everything,” he mentioned.
Tourist arrivals declined sharply after India scrapped Kashmir’s autonomy final 12 months. In the run-up to the choice, the federal government had requested vacationers and pilgrims to depart Kashmir. The advisory was withdrawn later.
Disputed area
Kashmir is held by India and Pakistan partly and claimed by each in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is held by China.
Since they have been partitioned in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965, and 1971 – two of them over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri teams have been combating in opposition to Indian rule, struggling for independence or unification with neighbouring Pakistan.
According to a number of human rights organisations, 1000’s of individuals have been killed within the battle since 1989, when an armed rebel erupted in opposition to Indian rule.

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