In a first, Kashmir airport gets its first liquor shop..*
*The Indian government hopes to boost tourism in the strife-torn state, with a well-decked liquor shop at Srinagar International Airport..*
In a bid to woo tourists to this militancy-infested region in the Himalayas, the Indian government has decided to get a liquor shop opened at Srinagar International Airport in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Airports Authority of India invited e-tenders in September – seeking bids from the potential players to run a duty-paid liquor shop at the airport – with the lowest bid of Rs 200,000 per month. October 16 was the deadline for the bidding.
Official sources said around 50 firms have shown interest to run the venture at the airport that caters to some 20 flights or 3500 passengers a day. The outlet is scheduled to start operations from January 1, 2018. Director Srinagar airport Sharad Kumar, while confirming the development told Asia Times: “All the famous and good quality liquor brands will be available for sales.”
Referring to the prevalent rise in violence in the trouble-torn region, Kumar said that the last two years remained “bad for tourism sector” in the valley. “We hope that by providing this facility we can attract more and more tourists. Otherwise there are only a few liquor shops in Kashmir. But here it’ll be available in safe and secure environment and will give a boost to tourism,” Kumar added.
He, however, clarified that no boozing would be allowed at the airport. “They can only buy it and carry it along but you cannot drink at the airport as it won’t be like a bar.”
Seen as preferred tourist-destination in the Indian subcontinent –Kashmir has shown need for good quality liquor. But then, liquor equally continues to be tabooed in this only Muslim majority state of India.
The entire Valley has only four liquor shops and a dozen odd bars limited to a few high-end hotels and golf courses. But the conservative forces including social and religious organizations have been fighting for a ban. Some of the groups even moved court with a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a ban on liquor sales in line with states like Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s native Gujarat.
While the High Court had sought the state’s response in June 2016, the state government ruled-out a ban on sale and consumption of liquor. The state’s Finance Minister Dr Haseeb A Drabu said: “People should decide what they ought to do, we can’t force our will on them.” Subsequently in March 2017, the Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janta Party alliance updated the policy for liquor sales.
Interestingly, despite demand for a ban, the state is witnessing an upward trend in the sale and consumption of liquor. Official figures reveal that at least 219,718 bottles of different varieties of liquor was sold in J&K in 2015-16. Around 169,161 bottles were sold in the state in 2014-15. In 2013-14, around 153,563 bottles were sold.
Liquor-sale is one of the biggest revenue generators for the state. The government realized Rs 5.3 billion revenue from liquor sales in 2015-16 compared to Rs 4.6 billion in 2014-15. In 2013-14, the department collected a revenue of Rs 4.3 billion from liquor sales in the state.
Around three decades ago, liquor vends were closed in Kashmir after ‘Allah Tigers’ a militant outfit issued a blanket ban on its sale and consumption, soon after the armed insurgency erupted in the region.
The armed outfit had even ransacked the liquor shops forcing all of them to close down instantly. However, a few of them have reopened in the “high security” areas and continue to operate since..(Muzaffar khan Srinagar)
No power on earth can merge J&K with India: Hurriyat (G)..*
No power on earth can merge Jammu Kashmir with India, APHC spokesman said, saying that since 1947, Indian authorities and their supporters despite their military might, couldn’t break our resolve and people in state are committed and determined to follow and take martyrs mission to its logical end.
Reacting to the statement of Dr Nirmal Singh, wherein he has said that “no power can separate Kashmir from India “, spokesperson said that people in state are pursuing their right to self-determination for which our youth have sacrificed their precious lives.
Nirmal Singh and those at the helm of affairs should note that with their military might, they can kill, resort to devastation and destructions, cage people, however they can’t deny the fact that international community has recognised the disputed nature and status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Spokesman said that despite all bullying and state sponsored repression, people in Jammu and Kashmir are determined and committed to pursue their cherished mission of freedom.
Denouncing state aggression, spokesman said, that the more atrocities inflicted and more aggressive approach will definitely infuse spirits and those pursuing the mission will emerge as stronger.
If they want to give peace a chance in sub-continent, then Indian authorities instead of bullying and relying on military power should come with logic and behave rational in their approach, said spokesman.
People of state while following the leadership of Syed Ali Geelani have strong point and case and hence don’t shy from negotiations and while blaming India for disrupting peace in South Asia, spokesman said that New Delhi has always resorted to highhandedness to break our resolve and resilience.(Muzaffar khan Srinagar)
UJC chief’s son sent to judicial custody
An NIA court on Wednesday sent son of United Jihad Council supreme commander to judicial custody on Wednesday.
Shahid Yousuf, son of Syed Salahuddin, was arrested by the NIA on October 24 before the court sent him to police custody for seven days which ended today.
Shahid Yousuf was presented before judge Poonam A Bamba who sent her to judicial custody to Tihar jail.
Salahuddin is chief of Hizb ul Mujahideen besides heading UJC.
Shahid has been accused of receiving funds from overseas sent by an alleged Hizb operative.(Muzaffar khan)
Blame game of BJP and congress forced Huriyat to run away from talks ……………Er. Rasheed*
Asks NC and PDP to play a positive role
Handwara 01 Nov. AIP Supremo and MLA Langate Er. Rasheed has blamed congress and BJP for forcing Joint Resistance leadership to reject the talk offer for resolution of Kashmir issue. While interacting with various deputations at Handwara today Er. Rasheed said that while P-Chitambram made untimely and unwanted comments about restoration of Autonomy, BJP’s response was equally unfortunate. Er. Rasheed said “Let all the stake holders understand that sincerity and commitment are the primary condition for making talks a success. Imposing conditions has neither yielded anything in the past nor may yield anything in the future. It is high time for the main national parties to create a conducive atmosphere so that all the stake holders are made to come on the negotiating table to find out a durable and amicable resolution to the seventy year long Kashmir dispute”. Er. Rasheed appealed BJP and congress not to use Kashmir card in getting votes in rest of India and realize the huge sufferings and sacrifices of people of Jammu & Kashmir. He also asked NC and PDP to persuade their alliance partners’ congress and BJP respectively to adopt a realistic attitude so that Huriyat and other stake holders find it easy to have a meaningful dialogue which can be extended by including Pakistan also in the final settlement of the dispute.(Muzaffar Khan Srinagar)