May 2004 News

Highway blast hits J&K tourism

23 May 2004
The Hindu
Our Staff Reporter

JAMMU: MAY 23. Today's attack on a Border Security Force convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, in which several soldiers, women and children were killed, has sent shivers down the spines of the hundreds of tourists coming to the Kashmir valley from various parts of the country. At the Jammu bus stand, many tourists postponed their visit to the valley after hearing about the attack. There has been a spurt in the tourist traffic in Jammu and Kashmir in the last fortnight and all the hotels in the prominent tourists spots were packed to capacity. Shivendra Kumar, who had come with his family of six members from Baroda, was too scared to leave by road through the National Highway 1 A, where the attack took place and which is the only link between the valley and the rest of the country. 'We would wait for a few more days before leaving by road,' he said. A number of Vaishno Devi pilgrims cancelled their plan to visit the valley and were returning home. Incidentally, the attack comes days before the commencement of security arrangements for the Amarnath yatra starting a month later. A major stretch of the yatra passes through the highway, a target of the militants who have escape routes through the hills which overlook the highway. The lower Munda area, where the attack took place, is the spot from where the scenic valley starts and has witnessed many similar attacks in the past. A highly guarded road network of the State, the highway is manned round the clock by the Army. No traffic, particularly the convoys of security personnel, is allowed till the green signal is given by the Road Opening Parties who look for and defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by militants.


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