Taliban Talk Hits Tourism In Jammu & Kashmir

7 October 2009
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: The J&K government on Wednesday said speculation about Taliban presence in Kashmir had hit the Valley's tourism sector hard. Tourism minister Nawang Rigzin Jora said, 'Our efforts to rope in tourists had succeeded in a big way and people had made their bookings five months in advance. But then came untrue reports about Taliban presence and everything went down the drain. Bookings were cancelled and we were back to square one'. The state was looking at 15 lakh tourists and pilgrims visiting the Valley this year. 'But due to the unnecessary Taliban scare we have missed the bus. We may have to be content with 10 lakh arrivals by end of year,' a tourism officer said. Jora said nearly nine lakh tourists and pilgrims have visited the Kashmir valley this year, including four lakh Amarnath pilgrims. Jora said no less than chief minister Omar Abdullah had tried to clear the air. 'Our CM went on air and tried to put the record straight. Everyone knows that there is no Taliban presence here. I also hope that media will exercise restraint and desist from exaggerating the situation,' he said. Jora's statement comes on a day when home minister P Chidambaram denied media reports about Talibans trying to infiltrate J&K. Expressing concern at the exaggerated reports about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, Jora said the government will request all concerned to exercise caution while making such statements.