Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday described tourism as a “magical medicine” that can provide a healing touch to the wounds of the people and said the Valley was safe for all visitors.
A day after reports of tourists being pelted with stones in the Valley, Mehbooba asked people not to fall prey to rumours and said the trouble was the handiwork of “some vested interests”.
“There have been some isolated incidents of tourists getting injured during clashes. However, projecting them as a deliberate design with malafide intention by a section of the media is regretted and should be condemned. The Valley is safe,” Mehbooba told agencies.
The Chief Minister, who has been camping here since Monday, said she had personally taken stock of the situation and directed all law enforcement agencies to ensure that places frequented by tourists in the Valley are guarded properly.
“During the process of movement of tourists, there were unfortunate incidents of some tourists caught in a stone-pelting mob situation. There were injuries to our guests. This has been criticised by one and all. Since Tuesday, various tourism related organisations have approached me.
Tourism, she said, was the mainstay of Kashmir’s economy.
“The state has gone through an enormous phase of violence. The tourism industry is one magical medicine that can provide a healing touch to the wounds of people. This can benefit an ordinary shikarawala, roadside hawker, small eatery…,” Mehbooba said.
“You see, after many stressful years, we have an opportunity for our common Kashmiri brothers and sisters to earn. No Kashmiri will push away an opportunity to earn his or her livelihood, she said.
The trouble, she added, was the handiwork of some vested interests who wanted people in the Valley to continue to suffer.
Expressing regret that some tourists were hurt in last few days, Mehbooba said, “I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to my guests. Saying this, I maintain that there was no malafide intention.”
According to the Chief Minister, only a few people had cut short their holidays. “See the crowd at Pahalgham and Gulmarg. I only pray to Almighty that the queues increase and people do not fall prey to rumours.”
The Chief Minister referred to the recent convention of Travel Agents Association of India (TAAI), held in Kashmir after a gap of three decades and said she had appealed to the members to clear negative perceptions about Jammu and Kashmir in their respective markets.
She also appealed to tourism bodies across the country to partner with the state government’s initiative to help provide a healing touch to the people of the state.
The Chief Minister said people here had suffered a lot but their hospitality and warmth remains unmatched even in these trying times.
Remembering her late father, former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, she said he always said tourists visiting Kashmir were an investment in peace.
“My father would always say when a tourist visits us, it is an investment in peace and also addresses the alienation being suffered by the people of the state,” she said.