SRINAGAR: The Indian government will lift a travel advisory on occupied Kashmir – in place since August 2 – on Thursday as the security clampdown in the occupied valley enters its third month.
Thousands of Indian tourists, pilgrims and workers fled the occupied valley in early August after authorities issued a security alert over possible militant attacks by Pakistan-backed groups – assertions strongly rejected by Islamabad.
Hours before India’s illegal and unilateral August 5 move, thousands of security personnel descended upon the scenic valley to enforce a draconian crackdown, with telephone and internet being severed and plunging occupied Kashmir into a communications black hole.
Indian claims some curbs have since been lifted. Media reported on Monday that members of the main National Conference party were allowed to meet two senior leaders detained in the crackdown.
However, mobile and internet services are largely still blocked in the occupied Kashmir valley.
Kashmir touts itself as “Paradise on Earth” and known for its mountains, glaciers and the Dal Lake, a favourite destination centuries ago for Mughal emperors escaping the summer heat of the India’s plains.
However, the United Kingdom and other countries still have advisories in place discouraging their citizens from travelling to Jammu and Kashmir.
More than 40,000 people have been killed in IOK since 1989.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government claims scrapping the state’s special status was ‘necessary’ to ‘integrate it fully’ into the rest of India and spur development. Critics say the decision will fuel further alienation and armed resistance.