India warns tourists to leave Kashmir over ‘terror’ threat- Samaa Digital


Kashmiri demonstrators clash with Indian police during a demonstration against Israeli military operations in Gaza, in downtown Srinagar on July 18, 2014. (photo credit: AFP)

Indian authorities on Friday told tourists to leave Kashmir because of “terror threats”, as media reports said 25,000 military reinforcements have been sent to the troubled Himalayan region.

Long lines of cars formed outside petrol stations while residents queued at food stores and bank cash machines to get emergency supplies.

The Jammu and Kashmir state government said that because of “intelligence inputs of terror threats” against a huge Hindu pilgrimage and “the prevailing security situation”, pilgrims and tourists should leave “immediately”.

India and Pakistan divided Kashmir when they became independent in 1947 and have fought two of three wars since over the territory.

The Indian government has admitted that 10,000 extra troops were sent to Kashmir a week ago. Media reports Friday said a further 25,000 had been ordered there.

Kashmir’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, called the new figure “exaggerated”.

Residents and Kashmir politicians fear the security is a preliminary smokescreen before the Hindu nationalist government carries out a threat to scrap special job and property rights for Kashmiris.

Political leaders in the territory have warned that cancelling the constitutionally guaranteed rights could spark unrest.

To add to public nerves, a police order to gather details on every mosque and its leaders was leaked on social media this week.

A top police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said officers have been “advised” to send their families to safe places and build up food reserves.

Many owners of petrol stations said officials have also asked them to keep vehicle fuel stocks at full capacity.

“It’s part of a constantly changing security plan to counter a possible public uprising,” the police official added.

A statement by Jammu and Kashmir state governor Satya Pal Malik that “everything is normal” in the region has not convinced the public.

“The anxiety among Kashmiris is real as this government has not hidden its intentions,” said Noor Ahmad Baba, a political commentator and politics professor at the University of Kashmir.

US President Donald Trump angered India last month when he said that Modi had asked him to mediate in the Kashmir dispute.

Trump reaffirmed an offer to mediate on Thursday. Each time India has insisted that the festering dispute can only be resolved bilaterally.

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