ANANTNAG: The tourist town that has hosted Amaranth pilgrims for decades, on Wednesday observed a shutdown for the day’s first half in solidarity with the pilgrims killed in Anantnag militant attack on late Monday.
Pahalgam, where business remains unaffected usually, on Wednesday observed at least four hours of shutdown in solidarity with the killed yatris. All shops, restaurants and business establishments remained closed during the tea and breakfast hours. The tourist town witnessed normal business after 1pm. The call for the shutdown was given by the recently constituted Pahalgam Welfare Association (PWA). It is a coalition of different unions operating in the town.
“The call for shutdown was given to protest the brutal attack on yatris to and express solidarity with their families. They had come for a religious ritual and by observing this shutdown we want to convey to the attackers that Kashmiris won’t tolerate attacks on their guests, irrespective of their faith,” President PWA Nazir Ahmed Shiekh told Kashmir Reader.
He said that people of Pahalgam have been hosting yatris as their respected guests since decades.
“We have always been hospitable to yatris and try to ensure they get the best service. In 1996 when over a hundred pilgrims were killed due to bad weather, we provided free accommodation to them in our homes for days, and even took them to Aishmuqam on our ponies without charging any money. We may have different political beliefs but our religion teaches us to respect all the religions,” Shiekh said.
Another resident, who owns a hotel, said that the attack should be investigated deeply. “Since everyone, even the militant outfits, have condemned the attack on pilgrims, we demand that an impartial probe be ordered into the cowardly act and the killers be exposed. Observing a shutdown was aimed at conveying to people of India that every Kashmiri is pained at the killing of seven yatris,” Ahmad said.