Tourism and the Truth about Kashmir

Tourism and the Truth about Kashmir
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Afresh and unneeded controversy has erupted in Kashmir over a news item that asserted that tourists were attacked in a certain district of Kashmir. This news item has been overplayed and milked by the detractors of Kashmir who want the region and its people should suffer. Whether the news item is fake or not is beside the point but its misuse is both worrisome and bad. It may be pointed out here that when (ever) Kashmir erupts, the attendant fury makes no distinctions between anyone. Even if, hypothetically speaking, the news item is true, it is not that tourists have been singled out for an attack. In the three decades of the militarized phase of the conflict in and over Kashmir, the tourist fraternity has hardly been touched. Tourism, in fits and starts, continued and gradually the flow increased. This would not have happened if the tourist class, as such, would have been targeted. These facts remain under reported or hardly ever reported. Nor is it highlighted that Kashmir are and remain one of the most hospitable people in the world, their outlook and attitude especially toward the outsider defined by graciousness. To the contrary, certain sections of the media in India, have gone out of their way to denigrate, impugn and portray Kashmir and Kashmiris in insalubrious and negative terms. While it is not clear whether the media campaign against Kashmiris is motivated entirely by malicious, malafide intent or just the quest for TRP’s and ratings, the fact is that the narrative created and trotted out by these media houses has deleteriously affected the tourist inflow into Kashmir. This is sad given the reality of Kashmir and Kashmiris. Yes, there is conflict in and over Kashmir, but this is a constant which has not, historically, affected the momentum of tourism in Kashmir. Now, amidst all this, a news item which pointedly referred to an attack on tourists in Kashmir, has been made to come out in public. Shorn of context and other important aspects like, to repeat, the fact that tourists have not been singled out, has not been highlighted but has actually been elided over, the news item, in contention, gives ammunition to the detractors and ill wishers of Kashmir and Kashmiris. To salvage tourism in Kashmir and impart momentum to it, all out efforts should be to made to the portray reality in Kashmir and Kashmiris which includes all the salubrious and healthy aspects of the region and its people. Last but not the least, irresponsible journalism and reporting must not be accorded latitude and leeway.

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