Is Hurriyat indulging in 'hartal tourism' in Kashmir?

Amid sustained agitation, inviting tourists to the restive region is nothing but a recipe for wildest-ever safari

Unwilling to give up the ongoing agitation that has paralysed life in Kashmir since last five months, the “united” Hurriyat has extended an invitation to tourists and yatris to visit the Valley. Clearly, an innovative “hartal-tourism package”, a patent of Hurriyat Tours and Travels, offered nowhere else in the world.

Exactly a day before issuing the weekly protests calendar, the joint resistance leadership comprising of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik issued a statement “welcoming everyone to visit Kashmir.”

“Everyone from the world including India is most welcome to Kashmir. We invite them to come to Kashmir and enjoy our hospitality and see the beauty of paradise on earth,” the united Hurriyat said.

Forgetting how shamelessly Geelani on September 4, shut the doors of his house for a visiting all-party delegation of Parliamentarians including Sitaram Yechury and Asaduddin Owaisi, the united Hurriyat has now some advice to share. “Islam and the Prophet of Islam (SAW) have taught us to be kind with our guests and serve them and safeguard their rights at every cost. This is also embedded in our Kashmiri culture and ethics and that is why our hospitality has been exemplary throughout the history,” it has said.

But can tourism and agitation go together?

The unrest has forced the Valley to remain shut for most of the working days. But through this “weekend package of normalcy”, the shops are likely to open on Saturday and Sundays in accordance with the proposed protest calendar.

Till now, we have all heard of bird-watchers. But amid this unrest, are we likely to have stone-pelting watchers too? With Hurriyat’s plan of tourism and agitation going hand in hand, who knows if tourists might come to get pellets tattooed on their bodies through “pellet tourism.” After all, a recent fashion show was dedicated to “bullet pellet effect” as part of its ‘Kashmiriyat’ collection. We won’t be surprised if that’s HUrriyat’s plan!

And is the Hurriyat also planning to equally promote PAVA shelling as a breathing-therapy for tourists? If their track record is to be trusted, the three must-visit destinations for honeymooners might include hospitals, jails and police stations.

Also, did they actually think before promoting this ‘tourism offer? The invite for yatris hardly makes any sense during the current freezing temperatures. Reality Check: Amaranth pilgrimage is held in summers, not this season!

In short, if inviting tourists is more important than restoring peace, then visiting Kashmir will see its wildest safari ever!