Tourists and Amarnath pilgrims rushed to the Srinagar airport after the government advisory.
Hundreds of tourists and Amarnath pilgrims are looking to leave the Kashmir Valley after the government on Friday asked Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to “immediately” cut short their stay and return, in an unprecedented advisory amid intelligence inputs of terror threats.
This morning, there was confusion at the Srinagar airport as tourists rushed there after hearing about the government notification. “We watched the news at 8:30 pm yesterday. We felt that something was wrong here. So we decided to return. We were planning to stay here for two more days,” a woman told NDTV. She and her family were yet to get a ticket to Mumbai.
Aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) on Friday asked airlines to be ready to operate additional flights from Srinagar if the need arises, news agency PTI reported quoting a source.
Airlines such as Air India, IndiGo and Vistara announced that given the turmoil, they were temporarily waiving off cancellation and rescheduling charges for flights to and from Jammu and Kashmir.
On Friday, scores of vehicles carrying pilgrims and tourists drove out of the valley. It was relatively easier for the Amarnath pilgrims in the Pahalgam base camp to pack up and go as the south Kashmir base camp is closer to the Jawahar Tunnel that is the exit point of the valley.
“We had the helicopter tickets to Amaranth today. But after the panic attack by the media last evening, our family back home told us to return as soon as possible…,” Manish Agarwal, a pilgrim from Chhattisgarh, told NDTV.
“I’ve been taking the Amarnath Yatra for 20 years. But never have we felt like this,” another man said.
Late Friday evening, Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asked a delegation of politicians in the state to “maintain calm and not believe rumours” that are circulating in Kashmir. Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Shah Faesal, Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari had approached the Governor for a meeting over the “panic” in the Valley.
Students of NIT, Srinagar, who are from outside the state, too are leaving the valley officials have said that there is no advisory to shut down educational institutions. Schools in the region remain open today.
The advisory, which appeared to indicate an exceptional security scenario, set off panic among the locals too. People were seen lining up at departmental stores, ATMs and pharmacies to stock up dry ration and essentials. Petrol pumps also witnessed a huge rush of people. Some waited for hours in queues only to find that fuel was over.
The advisory for pilgrims and tourists was put out barely half-an-hour after the army and the Jammu and Kashmir police displayed a landmine and a sniper rifle to reporters, saying there were “confirmed intelligence reports” that terrorists backed by the Pakistan army were trying to disrupt the Amarnath Yatra.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
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