When I was holidaying in Srinagar, I once asked my Shikara owner, what if I come across those guys having weapons? He smiled and replied “Sir, apke chehre pe likha hai aap tourist ho, woh apko haath bhi nahi lagayega, aur chala jayega” he says “They will immediately recognise that you are a tourist, by just looking at your face, they won’t touch you, and they will walk away”.

Kashmir Dal Lake
Kashmir Dal Lake

Please Note: I am a Hindu, BUT I RESPECT PEOPLE following other religion. That attitude is more than enough for you to get accepted, welcomed, loved and receive the Kashmiri hospitality.

There has never been any incident on any tourist, by saying that I didn’t mean that I don’t respect the lives lost by our soldiers. But bringing a halt to the bread and butter of lacs of people is something which no religion teaches.

If you want to give a mouth fitting reply to the terrorist, do it promoting tourism, show them that we are here, and your one incident is not going to stop us coming to the Kashmir Valley.

Jammu & Kashmir tourism board hosted an event ‘Kashmir Conclave’ here in Mumbai yesterday March 25th, 2019. With an aim to spread the tourism, defusing the bad publicity they got after the Pulwama attack.

From Left Mukhtar Ahmed Shah, Tarikh Gani, Nasir Ahmed, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Rigzan Samphael, Mushtaq Chaya, Sudhir Patil, Shaikh Ashiq, during the Press Conference of Kashmir Calling Conclave
From Left Mukhtar Ahmed Shah, Tarikh Gani, Nasir Ahmed, Khurshid Ahmed Ganai, Rigzian Samphael, Mushtaq Chaya, Sudhir Patil, Shaikh Ashiq, during the Press Conference of Kashmir Calling Conclave

The event began with a press conference with Mr. Khurshid A Ganai (Advisor to Hon’ble Governor J&K), expressing his views and the reason why they were here. Other distinguished guests were Shri Sudhir Patil, President of Maharashtra Tour Operators Association (MTOA), Mushtaq A. Chaya Chairman, J & K Hoteliers Club.

Other members on and off the dais spoke and showed us the positive picture about Kashmir and why we all should NOT boycott the Kashmir as a tourist destination this year, and how Kashmir is safe for the tourist.

But I found all this a little exaggerated until the microphone was taken over by Mr. Rigzian Samphael, I.A.S. Secretary Tourism, Govt. of J & K.

He was also the Guest of Honour, but I would tag him as a ‘Man of the Match,’ something similar to the cricketer Ajay Jadega from the ’90s, who came in slog overs and changed the tide single-handedly in many situations.

He started his explanation with two simple words ‘Reality vs. Perception’. This is what we all were waiting to hear from the delegation, I mean you cannot simply say that everything is okay and nothing is wrong, please come to Kashmir.

We wanted the truth with an acceptable explanation, which, this gentleman delivered in a non-diplomatic way, which was natural and a non-scripted one.

Though a couple of anti-government media present in the press conference tried to touch upon the negative part, again this gentleman nailed it all by one line which I will always remember, that is “There is no difference between walking at the Dal lake and walking at the Juhu Beach when it comes to security’.

His confidence didn’t come by watching any Bollywood movie or looking at the Instagram pictures.

He has lived in Mumbai for a good amount of time in the past, travelling in the local trains and taxis. He knows what Mumbai city is and the way he talked to us, he knew very well how Mumbai people are and their open-mind culture.

I love I.A.S. Officers; they don’t have time for bullshit.

He was straight, had a right tone, spoke with original words, without any editing in his mind.

And he was damn right, because I’ve been to Srinagar twice, once on a solo trip, and the other was a Motorbike expedition from Mumbai Ladakh Mumbai.

I remember when other bike riders decided to take a trip to Gulmarg and Sonamarg, I chose to stay back in Srinagar and explore the city and it’s culture, by visiting the Hazrat Bal, Bakeries, trying the Sheera Puri and visiting other Masjids.

I mean who needs war, who wants a fight, nobody wants it.

We want to see the beauty of Kashmir; they want to earn their bread. What’s wrong in this.

Let’s see this differently. I mean if you go to a foreign country, you are contributing to the tourism revenue of that country, if you go to Kashmir, your money stays in the country.

Please Note: Whenever you visit a foreign country, you always buy currency, that is US Dollars from the Banks, indirectly decreasing the currency reserve of the RBI (Reserve Bank of India). The US Dollar is very important for any government when it steps out in the international market to buy anything and everything. It is only in dollars, that we have to make the payment to the country we are buying or importing from, or else the RBI has to buy dollars wherein we again lose a good amount of money while trading the currency from Indian Rupees to Dollars.

In general, the common educated man knows this, but somehow the thoughts get painted by the disinformation campaign ran by the groups having a political agenda, forcing the tourist to select some other destinations.

But imagine, how it would affect the livelihood of a Kashmiri who works hard for six months building and polishing his property and services, waiting for the tourists to arrive so that he can give his best.

I mean they will be shattered if there is no tourist. It is their bread and butter. It is their livelihood.

Let’s go to Kashmir this season and show them our love, and I am sure we will be rewarded with more than expected.

Also read: What Is Shoulder Season, Why Travel In This Period?