India chaos: Kashmir EVACUATION causes panic - disputed territory with Pakistan on edge

People queue outside a cash dispenser in Srinagar

People queue outside a cash dispenser in Srinagar

"On August 2, Indian media reported that the government of Jammu and Kashmir had advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return home as soon as possible because of security threats", the United Kingdom government's advisory said. "We anticipate the current unrest will lead to a further decrease in travel bookings over the coming weeks", he added.

Still, around 60 global tourists arrived in Kashmir on Saturday, one of the local government officials said.

Thousands of military reinforcements were arriving in the Himalayan territory, where a three-decade old insurgency has left tens of thousands dead. "When we ask officials, they say something is happening, but nobody knows what is actually happening".

Anxious tourists, including some foreigners, flooded the airport at the main city, Srinagar, on Saturday, many without tickets for flights that day.

The security boost comes on the heels of the authorities suspending a Hindu pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath, which attracts thousands of people every year. The pilgrimage has been cancelled because of the scare. The steps have been taken in view of attempts made by the Pakistan-based terrorist groups including the Jaish-e-Mohammed to carry out strikes against the pilgrims and security forces deployed in the state. A second smaller pilgrimage, the Machail Mata Yatra, in Jammu region was also cancelled on Saturday. "I will return if the situation improves", he said.

While airlines contend there is no shortage of flight, scheduled flights are getting completely full in absence of additional deployment.

"All the non-local students have left the campus for their respective states", an administrative official at the National Institute of Technology in Srinagar told AFP.

Kashmiri residents formed long lines outside petrol stations, food stores and bank cash machines on Friday night after the alert was announced. But the queues eased Saturday.

Taking to social networking site Twitter, Omar wrote: "It takes years of effort to have these travel advisories diluted & the last few days have been a major setback for the tourism industry in the state".

"Such a move will have catastrophic consequences and push Kashmiris to the brink", she tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has refused to say whether it is about to scrap the constitutional article, though he has often spoken against it.

The Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Satya Pal Malik met at short notice a delegation of political leaders including Ms Mehbooba Mufti, Shah Faesal, Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari.

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