Binoo Joshi ( Commentary)
The government has announced compensation of Rs.5 lakh and promised a job to the families of the each of the stone throwers killed in law and order situation in the Valley. If that is what the government believes can bring peace and order to the Valley that saw unprecedented trouble and violence last year , attributed to the trigger provided by the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahadeen commander Burhan Wani on July 8 , one can only hope so. But that hope is extremely fragile.
A major concern at the moment is that how would the Valley restore its image as a safe place and secure and fearless destination for tourists and investors and reinforce confidence among the people of Kashmir themselves. There are no clear answers. The forces of destabilization and the vested interests are working over time to revive militancy and elements of unrest . The people outside Kashmir are not convinced that something has fundamentally changed to imbibe confidence in them.
Kashmir continues to suffer the image problem because of the “ horrible message that has gone across the country and abroad,” lamented an official who is engaged in projecting the image of Kashmir as a transformed place and as hospitable and peaceful as it was prior to the beginning of the violent troubles last year. “ The bad message of 2016 is now seen along side the troubles in 2008, 2009, 2010 and the recurring terror attacks.”
“ We were expecting that after the separatists issued a welcome back call to tourists and pilgrims in November, the tourists and investors would feel encouraged t visit the Valley. Their word was regarded as important by the local players because the outside world, particularly tourists, were keen to know how the separatists, whose shutdown and protest calls had violently stalled the tourist season last year, would see tourists to the Valley in future.,” a prominent tour operator based in Srinagar told JK News Today
Tourists had not forgotten the way they had to leave the Valley in July , how their vehicles were targeted with stones. The shattering and smashing of their windscreens and window glasses were greeted with glee and cheers by the miscreants.. The weather has changed but the ugly dots on the Kashmir’s image have not been blanketed out by the white cover of snow.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s assertion that “ Kashmir is safest for girls.” Has not stuck chord . The question the tour operators in Delhi, Mumbai Ahedabad have asked is, “ Is Kashmir safe with itself.” There are no convincing answers, and the people fear that they would feel the impact of the 2016 unrest on Valley’s image in 2017 as well.
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