The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Saturday advised airlines to keep fares from Srinagar in control as Amarnath pilgrims and tourists prepare to leave the Kashmir Valley. “Hon’ble Minister for Civil Aviation Shri Hardeep Singh Puri has asked all the airlines to rein in the surging air fares for pilgrims returning from Amarnath dham,” the ministry said in a tweet.
Air India said that it had decided to cap the fare at Rs 9,500 for all flights to and from Srinagar till August 15.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had on Friday advised the pilgrims to curtail their stay amid security threats. The Indian Army had said that intelligence inputs showed Pakistan-based terrorists were planning an attack.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had on Friday asked airlines to be ready to operate extra flights if necessary. However, the ticket prices for Srinagar-Mumbai flights for August 4 started from Rs 14,000. Booking websites showed ticket prices on Srinagar-Delhi route between Rs 11,000 and Rs 20,000 for Sunday.
Pakistan expresses concern over Kashmir
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Saturday expressed “serious concern over the progressively deteriorating situation” in Jammu and Kashmir. “There is deepening anxiety and fear among the people of IOK [so-called India-occupied Kashmir] because of reports of deployment of additional 38,000 Indian paramilitary forces in recent weeks,” the Foreign Ministry said. “The advice to tourists, yatris and students to immediately leave the IOK, and messages urging people to store food supplies, have stoked further apprehensions. Speculation has mounted that the Indian authorities might attempt to alter the demographic structure in IOK and to bring about a material change on the ground.”
The statement said Pakistan was opposed to changing the demographic structure or the disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir. The Foreign Ministry also claimed that the Indian Army violated the ceasefire between July 19 and August 3, leading to the death of six civilians and injuries to 48 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
“Pakistan also rejects the self-serving Indian assertions of ‘intelligence inputs’ about some imminent ‘terrorist’ attack in IOK as a justification for new deployments,” the ministry said. “This is a familiar Indian ploy to externalize blame, use baseless allegations as a smokescreen, and persist with its state-sponsored repression against the Kashmiri people.”
The Foreign Ministry said it has written to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the presidents of UN Security Council and UN General Assembly about the situation in Kashmir.