28 May 2006
Srinagar: The recent terrorist attack on tourists has caused panic among those visiting Srinagar and other areas, but it has not deterred them from choosing Kashmir as their favourite destination. On Saturday, 2,000 tourists, including foreigners, arrived here. A day after the head priest of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is heading the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, condemned the attack and said the attackers were not Kashmiris, the chairman of the hardline faction, Syed Ali Geelani, said: 'There can be no words to condemn such an incident involving civilians. Islam does not allow such a thing.' However, no one knew who did it, he told The Hindu . 'There are many agencies working here and they have always been trying to give communal colour to such a situation, and that has to be kept in mind,' Mr. Geelani said. In a statement, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said: '... by resorting to such dastardly acts, the perpetrators intend to scare the people to stay away from the valley.' The Travel Agents Society of Kashmir, the Travel Agents Association of India (J&K Chapter), the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, the Houseboat Owners Association and the Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Owners Federation have condemned the attack. Despite the attack, the tourist flow continued. 'Over 2,000 tourists arrived in Srinagar by air and road,' said Farooq Ahmed Shah, Director, Tourism. 'We have assured them that all steps will be taken to make them comfortable.' No cancellation has been reported so far. Around the Dal Lake in Srinagar, the movement of tourists was usual. 'There is panic but we still decided to go ahead with our plans. This can happen anywhere in the world, but we have to be cautious,' said Amrish, a tourist from Mumbai who arrived here with his family. The authorities said a good number of foreigners are among the 13,000 tourists now in the valley. So far nearly two lakh tourists have visited the valley this year — more than double than the number who visited in the first five months of 2005.