Breaking the 30 years old tradition, there was no shutdown in Kashmir on Wednesday when Home Minister Amit Shah arrived on his maiden two days visit to Srinagar to review the security arrangements for the smooth conduct of the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage. This is the first visit of Shah after being assigned the highly sensitive Home portfolio.
This is perhaps for the first time after the breakout of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir that the Hurriyat leaders have not given the call for shutdown during the visit of the Home Minister. Giving shutdown call during the Kashmir visit of Prime Minister or Home Minister had become a tradition of the Hurriyat and separatist leaders.
The development has come following the recent offer of separatists for a dialogue with the centre.
Immediately after reaching Srinagar, Shah reviewed the security arrangements for the smooth conduct of the upcoming 46-days long Amarnath pilgrimage that will begin on 1 July in South Kashmir.
Shah also reviewed the overall security scenario in Jammu and Kashmir. Governor Satya Pal Malik and top brass of the Army, Indian Air Force, BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and central and state intelligence agencies were present in the meeting.
Top officers of the Home Ministry are accompanying Shah during his maiden visit to the state after becoming Home Minister. He is also expected to fly to the cave shrine of Amarnath on Thursday to pay obeisance.
On his arrival, Shah was received at the airport by Governor Malik and senior officers of the state government. Shah also reviewed the counterinsurgency measures taken by the security forces to plug infiltration of Pakistan backed terrorists.
The Northern Army Commander Lt General Ranbir Singh reached Srinagar on Wednesday morning to take stock of the security arrangements on both routes of the Amarnath pilgrimage. He is expected to separately brief Shah about the situation.
In a separate meeting, Shah and Malik reviewed progress of several development projects in the state.
Shah is scheduled to meet the families of the BJP activists killed in recent terror strikes. He will also meet the family of Inspector Arshad who was recently martyred in a terrorist attack in Anantnag. Five CRPF jawans also lost their lives in the attack.
Shah will meet BJP leaders and members of Panchayats and also delegations of civil society members, the delegation of people connected with tourism and some youth delegations before flying back to New Delhi on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry has termed the restrictions around the Dal Lake during the two days visit of Shah as “unwarranted interference in the normal activities of the population”.
A spokesperson of the KCC&I said that the government has practically sealed the Dal Lake and peripheral areas for two days and shall cause tremendous inconvenience to tourists and those associated with the tourism business.