A DAY after seven pilgrims were killed in a terror attack near Anantnag, several tourists have started pulling out from their bookings for the Amarnath yatra. Travel and tour operators in the city are now considering not offering travel packages to Kashmir to avoid losses. “After hearing about what happened at the place, I do not feel encouraged to travel there anymore. I will take my time to judge the situation and plan the trip,” said Siddesh Sawant from Chembur, who planned this trip with his parents, on Tuesday.
“Though the visit is meant for a good cause, I am scared. As my entire family will travel with me, I may put their lives in danger. Though I have not cancelled my booking as of now, I am likely to do so,” said Shraddha Rai from Borivali who had planned a trip on Wednesday. Meanwhile, some of the tour operators in the city said trips around Amarnath and Srinagar were already off the list starting March after the unrest in the area. While Amarnath tourists had made their bookings right from May, many had cancelled it by June end.
“Taking a trip around the area was not profitable for us. Taking a small group would have led to losses. Many tourists had cancelled their trip even before the stated deadline for travel,” said Vijesh Thakkar from K V tours in Borivali. Many travel operators in the city claim to have offered to help visitors return to the city after the attack. “I am trying to help a family avail a flight ticket to return to Hyderabad tomorrow from Amarnath. They want to head back soon out of fear even before their visit is over,” said Deepak G, a tour operator.
Some visitors who returned to the city a day or two ago recalled that the situation was peaceful. “The security at certain places including Pahalgam and Balthal remains high. Our trip was very peaceful. The intention of the visit to offer worship to the deity was met,” said Saurabh Mehta, who returned from the trip on Monday. When The Indian Express reached out to some of the helpline numbers in Srinagar, officials there said that many calls were from families based in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
“We have altered the plan of our tour for the present lot of visitors. Equally, we are ensuring that families of the tourists get to have a word with them though the mobile network remains weak there,” said an official from Bhagyashree travels in Dadar, which has taken a group of six for the yatra.