Tourism boom in Kashmir due to scorching heat, not better situation: Azad

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a party function in Jammu on Saturday.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad addressing a party function in Jammu on Saturday.

‘Tailor-made Delimitation report helps only one party’
Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, May 21: Former Union Minister and senior All India Congress Committee leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad today said that the current tourism boom in Jammu and Kashmir is only due to the rising temperature in Delhi and other parts of the country and not because of any improvement in situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Talking to media-persons at the sideline of a party function here today, the former J&K Chief Minister, called for united efforts to finish militancy and also urged the Government to accept the genuine demands of vulnerable sections of the society to ensure that they are not harmed at all.
“The Government should not be happy over the increase in tourists’ arrival in Kashmir and link it with the improved situation,” Azad said adding that they (BJP) should avoid taking credit of it.
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“I give full credit for the tourism boom to the ‘Almighty’ as the rising temperatures in Delhi and the rest of the country prompted people to look for cooler environs in Kashmir, Shimla and elsewhere,” Azad said.
Azad, who reached Jammu on a two-day J&K visit this morning, presided over a function at the party headquarters to pay tributes to former PM Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary. He is scheduled to return to Srinagar on Sunday.
Flanked by senior party leaders including J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president GA Mir and working president Raman Bhalla, Azad said the mercury in Delhi touched 49 degrees Celsius and it was hovering between 47 and 48 degrees C in most parts of the country.
The people started fleeing to hill stations even ready to spend their time in tents or on roads to beat the heat, he added.
“There is no role of the Government in the increased tourist footfall in Kashmir,” he added.
Azad expressed concern over the growing terror activities in Kashmir and said “we all need to join hands to finish militancy in Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The genuine demands of the vulnerable sections of the society, whether they are Kashmiri Pandits, Sikhs or Muslims, who are on the hit list of militants, should be accepted. We should not put them in trouble,” he added.
Asked about the Delimitation Commission report which took effect in Jammu and Kashmir with the issuance of a notification by the Union Law Ministry on Friday, Azad said he and other Congress leaders have made it clear that they are not satisfied with the report which contradicts the ground realities.
Reiterating his stand on the Delimitation Commission report, Azad said the tailor-made report is in contradiction with the ground realities.
“It is a tailor-made report and prepared in such a way to benefit some and cause loss to whom they intend to,” the former J&K Chief Minister said.
In response to a question on the row over the use of speakers at religious places, Azad said the aim behind the campaign was to weaken the “ideology of tolerance” to create a rift in the society.
“In the 1500-year-old history of our country, Hindus and Muslims have lived together and they will remain so till the end of this world. The temple bells, ‘azan’ (call for prayer) from mosques and the prayer meetings at Churches and Gurudwaras is all about composite culture of Bharat and if it stops, Bharat is not going to remain the same,” Azad asserted.
He said the beautiful recitation of ‘Bhajans’ from temples and ‘Azans’ from mosques in the early hours make one proud of the pluralistic society of the country which is its real strength.
“The controversy was meant to weaken this ideology of tolerance. The idea of love and respect for each other needs to be strengthened. All of us – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians and others – accept each other and that is what India is,” Azad maintained.

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