India to Lift Travel Advisory on Kashmir Two Months After Crackdown

October 9, 2019 Updated: October 9, 2019

 

SRINAGAR, India—India on Oct. 11 will lift an advisory asking tourists and pilgrims to leave Jammu & Kashmir, further rolling back steps taken during a crackdown launched before the government scrapped the special status of the state two months ago, revoking Article 370 of India’s Constitution.

But underlining the continued security risks after the state government issued its advisory late on Oct. 7, police said on Oct. 8 that two terrorists belonging to Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) had been killed.

A military official told Reuters the militants were caught in a firefight in Pulwama district, some 25 kilometers (16 miles) south of Srinagar, the state’s summer capital, and in the same area where in February a suicide bomber rammed a car into a bus carrying Indian paramilitary police.

A police official, who declined to be named, said the two deaths meant six terrorists had been killed since the crackdown began in August.

Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims, and workers fled Jammu & Kashmir in early August after authorities issued a security alert over possible terrorist attacks by Pakistan-backed groups, assertions rejected by Islamabad.

Telephone and internet services were suspended and public movements restricted in some areas to prevent protests hours before India announced it had revoked the region’s special status.

Some curbs have since been lifted. On Oct. 6 some 15 members of the main National Conference party were allowed to meet two senior leaders detained in the crackdown.

However, mobile and internet services are largely still blocked in the Kashmir valley.

 

‘Paradise On Earth’

Kashmir touts itself as a “Paradise on Earth” and is known for its mountains, glaciers and Dal Lake, a favorite destination centuries ago for Mughal emperors escaping the summer heat of India’s plains.

However, Britain and other countries still have advisories in place discouraging their citizens from traveling to Jammu and Kashmir, where a grenade attack injured 10 people at the weekend.

A military official, who also declined to be named, said the terrorist deaths on Oct. 7 came after the military set up checkpoints and laid ambushes in orchards.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, and both claim the territory in full. More than 40,000 people have been killed in an insurgency in the Indian part of Kashmir since 1989.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says scrapping the state’s special status was necessary to integrate it fully into the rest of India and spur development.

By Fayaz Bukhari

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