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Kashmir unrest affects Vaishno Devi pilgrimage, Jammu business
1/19/2020 11:14:20 PM
AB Sharma
Early Times Report

Jammu, Jan 19: Even as Jammu has been known for its nationalist sentiment, the “militancy and separatist sentiment” in Kashmir has been causing huge loses to the winter capital region for no fault of the latter. The shocking revelation has come to fore with the authorities having found out that revered cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta Hills has witnessed its lowest arrival of pilgrims in three years in 2019. The analysts have linked the lowering footfall to uneasy situation in neighboring Kashmir.
As per the data recently shared by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, as many as 79,40,064 pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine in 2019 as compared to 85,86,541 in 2018 reflecting a decline of 6.5 lakh pilgrims as compared to 2018, and a decrease of about 2.38 lakh pilgrims as compared to around 81.78 lakh in 2017. A senior official told Early Times that the low pilgrim footfall should be linked to the terror incidents in Kashmir including the Pulwama terror strike that had left around 50 paramilitary personnel dead on February 14, 2019. “Besides, the terror strikes, the prolonged hartal against the abrogation of special status also portrayed Jammu and Kashmir in a negative manner thereby affecting the number of prospective pilgrims to the cave shrine(Mata Vaishno Devi shrine) ,” said the official on the condition of anonymity. Market pundits said given the fact that Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrimage is directly linked to religious tourism, the lowering footfall equally means loss of business in Jammu. “Lowering footfall of pilgrims means that business activities in general and tourism in particular remained affected in Jammu… The last three decades of militancy in Kashmir has been indirectly affecting business in Jammu region for no fault of ours,” said a businessman from Jammu.
While the Jammu region has been suffering such loses unheard, it is Kashmir which wants compensation for almost everything including hartal observed in the winter capital region against the abrogation of Article 370.
Recently, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries has presented a memorandum to the union government seeking compensation of over Rs 17,000 crore for the so called losses suffered in the last few months of uneasy situation in the valley.
When contacted a senior official said the civil society of “Jammu needs to rise to the occasion and be concerned about regional interests.”
“No doubts Jammu has been suffering because of militancy in Kashmir but this needs to be formally consolidated. Coming up with a formal report linking decrease in number of Vaishnu Devi pilgrims with Kashmir situation is the need of the hour,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.
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