Sunday, June 11, 2006

The State was jolted when terrorists targeted a tourist bus in Srinagar killing four persons from Surat. This sparked off a series of protests by various organisations. VHP was the most vocal and had called for a boycott of Kashmir. But the tragedy and its aftermath have not affected the flow of Amarnath pilgrims from the State this year. In fact, the numbers have reached a new high. As of now, the registration trend shows the number of Amarnath pilgrims this year will be much higher than that of last year.
According to Jammu and Kashmir Bank, which is the nodal agency for registration of pilgrims, this year’s figure has already crossed last year’s. ‘‘Last year, it was about 6,500. This year, registrations have already crossed this figure and we expect about 17,000 pilgrims from Ahmedabad alone. On May 31, as many as 1,200 people registered. Since then, the daily average is about 800,’’ said Kidarnath Dhar, assistant general manager of the bank in Ahmedabad. For this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government has also increased the Gujarat quota of pilgrims to 54,600 from last year’s 21,000. This quota is to be monitored by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and it is independent of the number of registrations done by private tour operators.
The break-up of the quota (of 54,600) is like this: 16,800 each for the C G Road, Vadodara and Surat branches of the bank; 4,200 for Satellite branch.
This year the actual yatra is during July 15-August 9.
Private tour operators say this year they are receiving more registrations. It was only for a few days after the terrorist attack on the tourist bus last month that killed seven tourists from Surat, that people were not showing much interest in going to the Valley. But that was just for a short period.
Like Ramesh Thakkar’s Navbharat Tours and Travels has so far made 500 registrations, against last year’s 350. Their target is 1,000 reservations. ‘‘We hope to register this much,’’ said Thakkar.
Chandrakant Shah of Sri Vardayini Travels says till now 200 pilgrims have registered with him, whereas last year the figure was 180. ‘‘The figure will go up, and this year the business is good,’’ said Shah. For regular pilgrim Hemant Khosti, this year’s yatra will be his 15th. ‘‘This year, I am taking my 16-year-old son with me. I was there when the terrorist attack on the tourist bus took place, but that was just one-time incident,’’ says Khosti.
There’s no stopping them:

J-K Bank, which registers pilgrims, expects the numbers to cross 17,000 against 6,500 last year.Looking at the response, J-K Govt has increased State quota from 21,000 last year to 54,600.Private tour operators say they have crossed targets.

Is this the kinda writing i really wanna be doing all my life?

1 comment:

Zeph Keyes said... Here's where this from