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Kashmir Opens For Tourists Today

More than two months after a security arrengment, Kashmir will be open to tourists from Thursday . After 370 removal all tourist were asked to leave valley .

Governor Satya Pal Malik had  lifted the restriction on entry of tourists after holding a security review meeting. The government had asked the tourists to curtail their stay in the Valley “immediately” soon after it took the step to call off the annual Amarnath Yatra on August 2. Then the Parliament effectively scrapped Article 370 of the Constitution that given special status to the state, and divided it into two union territories.

The administration had also imposed restrictions on movement, snapped phone and telephone lines, arrested the state’s political class and deployed more troops to prevent any backlash to the controversial move.

Tourist operators had told the media in late August they were badly hit by the sharp drop-off in visitor numbers, and were worried many people would stay away for a prolonged period.

More than half a million people visited the valley in the first seven months of this year, according to official data. In addition, some 340,000 religious tourists were also visiting the valley in July before their pilgrimage was called off due to the terror claims. Just 150 foreign travellers visited Kashmir after August 5, the figures showed.

The measure to lift the travel ban, however, has been called half-hearted by critics, with many pointing out that hardly anyone would want to visit till the communication blackout persists.

Over the last one week, the administration has taken some steps to test the uneasy calm in the state as it has come under increasing international scrutiny for the prolonged clampdown .

On Wednesday, the administration re-opened higher secondary schools, colleges and universities. In Srinagar, security forces were stationed outside the prestigious Sri Pratap College and were allowing students on the campus after checking their identity cards.

The administration will also release three political detainees on Thursday after making them sign a bond, promising “good behaviour”. ​

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