Rush in Kashmir dries up amid unrest

Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], Nov. 25 : Srinagar's scenic and picturesque Mughal Gardens, a favourite among tourists, wears a deserted look these days, as people have chosen to stay away from Jammu and Kashmir's winter capital owing to the prolonged unrest in Kashmir Valley.

The elimination of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani by security forces on July 8 this year, plunged the valley into its worst unrest in six years, and has kept tourists away.

It is autumn, and the garden is carpeted with dried leaves which lend it a beautiful orange tinge. However, there are no tourists to witness this wonder of nature. Workers in the garden spend their days sweeping and burning the leaves which also keep them warm as the temperatures dip.

Assistant Floriculture Officer Shayik Rasool said the absence of tourists this year is unprecedented. The autumn season always attracts nature lovers, locals and tourists alike. But there has been a lot of change because of the conditions prevailing for the past four months. The garden is deserted at this time of the year as there are no tourists here," said Rasool. A local resident, Lateef Ahmad, too was surprised to see the deserted Mughal Gardens. "The weather today is very pleasant here, but we can see that there is no one here. There were so many people and tourists here last year. But this garden looks completely deserted today," said Ahmad. Kashmir Valley, with its picturesque lakes and gardens, is thronged by tourists during May-November period when people from across India flock to the state to escape excruciating summers.

Tourists come in from foreign countries too. The Mughal Gardens and the Tulip Garden normally attract a large number of tourists year after year, but the unrest, which is in its fifth month now, has broken the back of the state tourism industry, leaving its stakeholders high and dry.

About 100 civilians have been killed and over 6,000 have been wounded in clashes between protesters and security forces since Wani's killing nearly five months ago.

Source: ANI