Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tourism, Kashmiri Style

Tourists put to great inconvenience as no one worries about logistics of endearing hospitality

Srinagar Out of Rooms, Visitors Sleeping in Vehicles

Mudasir Tariq Lone (Kashmir Monitor)

 Srinagar: As the valley is witnessing a huge tourist inflow, the hotels across all the tourist places are said to be booked choc a bloc. As there are literally no rooms available in the valley, many a tourists are now spending the nights in various tourist cabs and lorries.

The Kashmir Monitor spoke to the tourists who have been spending their night in the open air as they could not find any room in Srinagar. “Every hotel and guest house here is having an advance booking for months, while as the tourist inflow is increasing every day, despite all efforts I couldn’t get accommodation in a hotel, so I along with my wife are spending last four nights in a tour bus that we have boarded from Gujarat, now I am deciding to leave Kashmir as soon as possible as we are facing immense inconvenience,” said Vejnath Gupta, a tourist from Gujrat.

Another tourist Vinay Pelgoankar, from Delhi said that he had booked a hotel in advance but was in a waiting list and couldn’t get a room in the hotel.“I was on holidays so I decided to spend them in Kashmir, I booked the hotel in advance from Delhi, on reaching Srinagar, I found that all the rooms in the hotel were already occupied so I couldn’t get a room, though I was able to get my money back but now after day’s sightseeing I am spending my night in a tempo traveller,” said Pelgoanker.

Meanwhile many locals in the Dal gate area and along the Boulevard have started accommodating the tourists in their homes.“Many locals have now turned their houses into hotels and are earning handsomely, while the tourists are bound to take accommodation in these houses, the locals are taking its full advantage,” said Rafiq, a local.

According to sources in the tourism department, the government keeping in view the rush of tourists has also decided to be lenient as far as registration of guest houses is concerned."There is such a rush that we are allowing tourists to stay with locals. For now we will not seek any permission or registration as we want economy to grow", said an official.

The local tour operators in the valley on the other hand are blaming the non -local agents for this phenomenon and recommend on the hoteliers and tourists to go through local agents.“This is true that tourists are going through huge problems in terms of accomodation at the movement, but this is all due to the non- local agents, these agents are paying huge sum to hoteliers and deceiving tourists. Because of this the guest houses and lodges are charging extra , one can see more than five persons in a single room. If this all goes via local agents the tourists will not face such a problem,” said Mumtaz Ahmad Dar, a local tour operator.

Meanwhile the local tour operatots have demanded that government must immediately put up toilets and bathing points at various places so as those who not get rooms in Srinagar can at least have space to wash their faces.

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