Are Stone Pelters Now Attacking Tourists In Kashmir?
Are Stone Pelters Now Attacking Tourists In Kashmir? Kashmiri protesters throw stones towards police. (Waseem Andrabi/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

It was always believed that stone pelters in the Kashmir Valley only attacked the Army personnel stationed there but never touched the tourists. This belief seems shattered now with at least two reports in The Times of India (TOI) claiming a series of attacks on tourists on 1 and 3 April.

The Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) police have refuted the reports, though they have admitted that two tourists sustained injuries on Sunday "because the vehicles came in the middle of an area while pelting was going on".

However, the TOI report is supported by statements from bus drivers and other sources. What is s surprising in the entire episode is that the J&K police have gone so far as registering an FIR against the daily’s reporter based on complaints by tour operators.

A TOI report published on Monday, titled 'Stone-pelters attack tourists in J&K, 4 hurt' triggered outrage as it claimed that a mob of around 100 pelted stones on a vehicle carrying tourists towards Srinagar on Sunday at Awantipora on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. It said that two women, Sandhya Kumari (25) and Mandana Jaswal (35), both residents of Uttar Pradesh, were hit on the head. Deputy Superintendent of SMHS hospital, Dr Muneer Ahmad, told TOI that the women were discharged after treatment.

Reacting to the report, the J&K police issued a press statement saying that no incident of stone pelting took place near Dal Lake and Awantipora areas on Sunday. However, the statement acknowledged that two tourists were hurt.

"...Two tourists got minor injuries on April 1..There has been nointended or designed attack on any tourist. It was because the vehicles came in the middle of an area where pelting was going on," the statement said.

Another front-page report published in TOI today (April 4) said that a tourist bus (number UP17AT505) of Sehgal Tours, carrying 42 people from Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, was attacked in Kangan on Tuesday. Two tourists sustained injuries, the report says quoting the driver of the bus.

The report also mentioned several other incidents of attack on tourists, including one on a cab carrying tourists near Dalgate. It also mentions a case of a group of youths asking tourists in Royal Velvet Hotel at Nai Sadak to leave the valley.

It is waiting to be seen how J&K police reacts to the fresh report. On Monday, they registered an FIR against TOI’s Srinagar correspondent M Saleem Pandit after at least 10 local travel agencies complained that the report was written with “malicious intention to disrupt the peaceful tourist season”.

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