“Of all the places in the country, girls and women are the safest in Kashmir. They cannot be raped in a moving car. They move around in shikaras and houseboats,” Mehbooba Mufti said at a tourism event here.
New Delhi: Mehbooba Mufti today said that beauty of Kashmir lies in the people, their emotions, bonding and not only in landscape. She said that women in particular and tourists in general have always felt safest in Kashmir.
Speaking at the Bharat International Tourism Bazaar (BITB) organised at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, she said that Tourism could be the best Confidence Building Measure for people of Kashmir adding that tourism should not only be seen as an aspect of economics but a long term investment in peace, in emotions of people of J&K and establishment of a stronger bonding for lasting peace.
Lt Governor Delhi Najeeb Jung, Union Minister of State for Tourism, Mahesh Sharma, Delhi Tourism Minister Kapil Mishra, Chairman STIC Subhash Goyal, Director ITB Berlin David Reutz and a number of entrepreneurs were present apart from representatives from across the country and travel associations.
Mehbooba Mufti reiterating the need for a comprehensive dialogue on Kashmir issued pitched for peace as a conducive atmosphere for dialogue which is also pre-requisite for tourism in state. She asked the media to play a constructive role in showcasing the real beauty and culture of the people of Kashmir and not only specific incidents. She cited the example of a boatman who lost life this summer while saving the tourists during boat capsizing as a real example of the spirit of common Kashmiri, adding that, Kashmiris have been putting in their best for conduct of Amarnath Yatra every year since long which reflects the commitment of average Kashmiri. She also said that no tourist has been hurt or suffered loss even during the protests which also reflects that Kashmir remains a safe place for tourists. She also highlighted the role played by local kashmiri residents in saving lives of tourists and providing them best possible assistance during the floods in 2014.
Launching a scathing attack on Delhi Government’s Tourism Minister Kapil Sharma, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said that there is a need to appreciate that a place like Kashmir is safest for women, be it local residents or visitors and there is no crime against women unlike Delhi where women still feel unsafe. Kapil Mishra has earlier said that people in Kashmir give shelter to militants and terrorism and tourism cannot go together. Pertinently Delhi Government was host of BITB. Ms Mufti further rebutted Mishra saying that it is wrong to blame the people of Kashmir who have always stood by rich values. She said that people in Kashmir have been victims of the situation and not perpetrators of it in response to Mishra’s comment of Kashmiris being supporters of terrorism, adding that Kashmiri’s have been failed by leadership at central and state level at various occasions and for the present dispensation there is a lot to do.
Pinning hope in the improvement in situation she said that skirmishes at border highlighted frequently lead to casting an impression of violence in Kashmir, however the people of Kashmir remain committed to peace and resolution of issues through dialogue. She said that people in Kashmir have a great trust and faith in countrymen which is testified by thousands of children sent for studies in schools, colleges and universities across country which could also be seen a platform for exchange of ideas and opinions to have stronger bonds.
Mufti recalled contributions of PDP founder and former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syeed in easing security scenario in state, providing conducive atmosphere for democratic dialogue as hallmark of all forms of engagements over a period of time and also providing an avenue for the people to vent their anger. Responding to a question on protests she said that democracy is the best thing about Kashmir as is for India and people should be encouraged to present their point of view or vent their anger in a peaceful manner. Patience and tolerance are the hallmark of the democracy, said the Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir state has been allotted Rs 500 Cr for development of tourism infrastructure in the current financial year, which was informed by Union Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mr Mahesh Sharma. He complimented the state government for coming up with innovative plans for tourism development and promotion.