SRINAGAR, July 14: Kashmir has passed through a period of darkness of disturbance, but now peace is setting in gradually, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Saturday, apparently referring to huge tourist flow and growing economic activity in the fragile scenic region.
Abdullah said the days of desperation were “vanishing” in war-torn valley where tens of thousands of people have died in past two decades.
“After witnessing a dark period of 22 years we are coming out of it gradually towards the peace and development”, he said adding that every section of the society had to bear the brunt of disturbance in one way or the other.
The chief minister was speaking at a function to welcome Buddhist religious leader, Dalai Lama, who is on a week-long stay in Kashmir, after a gap of 24 years.
Kashmir, known as Switzerland of Asia, was one of the most favourite tourist destinations till 1989 when militancy broke out in the region.
Now, with violence involving militants and security forces declining, tourists are pouring into this himalayan region of lakes and gardens like never before.
At least two million tourists are expected to visit the valley this year from across the country and abroad, but authorities are too cautious to celebrate.
The government has denied commenting on the exact number of tourists who have visited so far. This because, in the past, violent attacks on tourists would immediately follow any functions to celebrate a ‘good’ tourist season
New Delhi is not lowering gaurd in Kashmir, where analysts say peace is deceptive and region could errupt anytime following a violent incident.
Security agencies say withdrwal of troops or terror laws like Armed Forces Specail Powers Act – which provide them immunity from prosecution – could have disastrous affects in the region.