Under a new flyover in the heart of Srinagar, inaugurated by the Governor less than two months ago, commercial vehicles were lined up to take tourists out of the city.
Tourists were seen climbing into the waiting vehicles, bags hanging from their shoulders, cutting their trips short and returning home. This a day after the Jammu and Kashmir administration called off the Amarnath Yatra and ordered pilgrims and tourists to leave immediately.
Although the order was directed specifically for yatris and tourists, the non-local population in the state was also on edge. With apprehensions of a curfew being imposed allayed for another day, they checked tickets online or asked others to join them to take the road out of Kashmir.
“It does not seem like the situation will improve. There is so much confusion that we do not want to risk staying here and then not having the option to even reach the airport,” Raj Sharan, a 38-year-old interior designer from Delhi, told The Sunday Express.
There was also confusion among those who work here and cannot abandon their livelihoods to return. They include people setting up fibre networks in the Valley, those designing cafes, labourers, tailors, muezzins.
At the city centre, pilgrims who were returning without getting a chance to pay obeisance at the holy cave said that hotel owners turned them away from the reception quoting the government order issued on Friday.
Anticipating the end of the tourist season in Kashmir, vendors tried to sell trinkets at marked up prices. Tourists, however, were conspicuous by their absence and store owners sat at their shop fronts and discussed the developments in the state.
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