‘I find Kashmir safer than my town’

‘I find Kashmir safer than my town’
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Tamil Nadu tourists all praise for Valley hospitality, sense of responsibility

AFRA FATHIMA

SRINAGAR: The recent death of a tourist from the state of Tamil Nadu has created havoc in Kashmir’s tourism industry. A number of tourists are reported to have cancelled their tickets to Srinagar after the incident. Is the situation as terrible as the media hypes it to be?
Kashmir Reader reached out to tourists from Tamil Nadu currently staying in the city for their views on the matter.
Aravamuthan, 70, and Saravanan, 39, from Thindivanam District, Tamil Nadu, reached Kashmir three days ago. “Five more people were to accompany us but they cancelled their tickets after hearing about the death of the Chennai tourist. I have been travelling to Kashmir for the past five years, so I know how safe this place is. Tourists are heartily welcomed here by the locals, who are very hospitable,” said Saravanan. He feels that the people who haven’t visited the Valley before are the ones fearing to visit it.
Aravamuthan, who is visiting Kashmir for the first time, says he already adores the Valley and its people. “Every Kashmiri I’ve met has been very polite and welcoming. The auto-drivers, too, are reasonable, and I neither found nor suspected any shopkeeper to be cheating,” he observed. “I find Kashmir safer than my town,” he adds.
The tourists seemed to be awestruck by the hospitality and sense of responsibility they received from the locals. “There was pelting of stones in areas we had to cross to reach the hotel. The auto driver made sure of our safety and took other routes. I was astonished when he refused to take the money and said that it was his duty to ensure we reached safely. I am very impressed by the fact that eve-teasing is very uncommon here. I do not find it uncomfortable walking on the streets of this city,” said Amritha Krishna from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.
Another resident of Chennai, Hasan, 19, staying in Dal, said, “It is sad that we lost a person amidst the fight between the protestors and the police, but labelling the whole of the Valley unsafe is unfair. The whole wave of negativity spread on the media channels, I feel, is unnecessary. The civilians are friendly beyond words, and their hospitality is unmatchable.”
“There is some or the other issue going on in every place across the globe, that doesn’t mean every place is unsafe for tourists. The way the media has portrayed Srinagar is unjust. I have been in Srinagar for four days now and I perceive Kashmir as safe to be in and Kashmiris safe to be with,” stated Hadhijath Nooriya also from Chennai.