The National Conference on Saturday hit out Prime Minister Narendra Modi for asking Kashmiri youths to choose between “tourism and terrorism”, saying the remark was far from ground realities. NC working president Omar Abdullah also said that linking tourism and terrorism was flawed at the outset as Kashmir received the highest number of tourists before the advent of militancy in the Valley in 1988. He also hit out at Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for failing to bring a peaceful solution to the problem in the state. “Whether the message was right or not, you can guess yourself. Militancy or terrorism did not erupt due to lack of tourism. The highest number of tourists visited the state a year before the militancy erupted,” Omar said after holding an election meeting at Pulwama in South Kashmir, 35 kms from Srinagar.
The former chief minister said if terrorism started in the state despite a tourism boom, it was obvious that there was no relation between the two. “This is a political issue and it was Mehbooba Mufti’s duty to present the real picture before the Prime Minister. (But) She failed in her duty and that is what the PM said it,” he added.
Questioning the rationale behind linking tourism and terrorism, he asked what should the youths do who hail from areas where there is no scope for tourism. “If you say that the youth here have to choose between tourism and terrorism, then tell me about those areas where there is not much scope for tourism. Are we directly pushing people in those areas towards terrorism? It is easy to indulge in such statements, but such statements have no relations with the ground realities,” Omar said.
Pulwama, which is part of Anantnag Parliamentary seat where bypolls will be held on April 12, is the worst-hit district where there is a heavy presence of militants and its sympathisers. Asked about the ruling PDP’s accusation that the NC rigged assembly elections in 1987 which gave rise to militancy in the state, Omar said the ruling party should talk about its achievements rather than talking about the past. “Her (Mehbooba’s) government is two-and-a-half-year-old now and Modi government is three-year-old. Let them show what they have done in these years, rather than going to 1987.
“There have been many elections since 1987. The people made their decision after 1987 many a times. Mehbooba should not hide her failures behind 1987. Let her talk of 2015, 2016 and 2017 when she failed to raise our issues in front of the Prime Minister (at a rally on April 2) at Udhampur,” he alleged. Omar said the Chief Minister had a good opportunity to raise the issues of the state but she choose only to congratulate the Prime Minister on win in Uttar Pradesh. “She had such a good opportunity to speak about the state, but she only said two things one she congratulated the PM for UP win, and that she was grateful to the PM for saving her government in 2016. This is her leadership and that is why she is talking about 1987,” he said.