July 2003 News

Dal Lifts Veil At Night To Defy Terror Writs

25 July 2003
The Hindustan Times

Srinagar: The veil lifts in the depths of the pristine Dal Lake. A whole new world opens up as the shore lights dim and the shikara quietly sails towards the illuminated house boats. Bootleggers, drug peddlers and pimps in dark, dingy boats glide past, waiting for the right signals. Everything is available here for a price and at a premium. In the words of a shikara owner, 'Sare Kashmir purdah mein hain, lekin yahan to America hain (The whole of Kashmir may be under veil, but deep inside the Dal Lake it's America)'. There is no official prohibition in Kashmir. But the militants' diktat is decree here and all liquor outlets have shut shop, barring bars at a few high-security hotels or the barricaded tin shed in the highly fortified Batwara area in Srinagar. For the uninitiated tourist in Kashmir, getting a bottle of liquor is like asking for the moon. But the fašade breaks once you whisper what you want to a conduit and the word spreads. The message is transmitted through an intricate network of boatmen on the lake and your demand is met. A shikara stuffed with mineral water and soft drinks accosts you and a bottle of whisky is fished out from deep inside the boat. He sells them for double the price. Anything else, he asks, and then rattles off rate list for any kind of indulgence. While there is an undeclared curfew after 7.30 pm in Srinagar, the Dal Lake is awake the whole night as shikaras make brisk business till at least 1 am. However, boatmen rue the fact that there are no foreign tourists, who are more generous with money. With the boom in tourism after nearly a decade of turbulence, the Dal Lake has become a waterhole. 21 killed in J&K Twenty-one people, including 13 intruders and an army jawan were killed as security forces scuttled three infiltration bids in Jammu and Kashmir since Thursday night, the police said. Ultras abducted a villager but set free another in an injured condition, while two militants were arrested in the state during the perio


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