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Forget Jammu, Kashmir continues to be priority for foreign delegates
2/17/2020 11:33:40 PM
AB SHARMA

EARLY TIMES REPORT

JAMMU, Feb 17: Even as over six months have passed since the discriminatory special status was revoked, Kashmir continues to be the priority for the international delegations, who find little or no time for Jammu during their trips to the newly created Union Territory.
Since August 5, at least three foreign delegations visited the UT. But during all the visits, the foreign delegates not only kept Kashmir on their “first priority” but even spent most of their time in the valley alone.
As about the recent 2-day visit of the European delegation on February 13-14, the diplomats from various countries spend one full day and night in Kashmir whereas a mere few hours were spent in Jammu.
This is despite the fact that the Jammu region apart from being victim of terrorism has thousands of painful stories of the Kashmiri Pandit community in particular, who have been living as migrants in the winter capital region.
While the normal life and even business activities remain affected in Jammu due to terror, the unprovoked shelling by Pakistan has affected life in the countryside along the frontier.
Market pundits say the terrorism and separatist sentiment in Kashmir, on the other hand, has affected business, particularly tourism in Jammu.
This viewpoint was recently vindicated by data recently shared by the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board as the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Trikuta Hills witnessed its lowest arrival of pilgrims in three years in 2019.
The analysts have linked the lowering footfall of pilgrims in Jammu to the uneasy situation in Kashmir.
As per the data 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.
From frequent shelling by Pakistan on frontiers in Poonch, Rajouri and RS Pura areas, to terror strikes in the heart of Jammu, the winter capital has largely been seen as untold story for the foreign diplomats. From the attack on Army garrison in Sunjwan to multiple grenade attacks in the busy winter capital to recent terror strike in Nagrota, Jammu bleeds unheard.
A political analyst said it was responsibility of the Jammu and Kashmir government to ask the Ministry of External Affairs to end discrimination with Jammu by asking the foreign delegates to spend equal time in both the regions to know the “ground reality.”
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