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No room for Kashmir residents in India

Jan 24, 2007:

For Kashmiris travelling to various Indian cities, a simple act of checking in a hotel room is not so simple, especially in weeks preceding the Republic or Independence Day.

Hotel owners refuse rooms with a simple explanation, “We have strict orders from police not to give rooms to Kashmiris”.

The problem aggravates in the weeks preceding the Indian Republic Day in January and Independence Day in August, when the security apparatus all round the corner is heightened.

“Kashmiris are not welcome any where. Even in December one is unable to find lodging in New Delhi,” says Showkat Ahmad a trader in Srinagar.

In December 2005 Showkat had to return home from New Delhi overnight, simply because he could not get a hotel room.

“I tried at least three places in old Delhi for a room, but I was simply denied one for being a Kashmir citizen.” says Showkat.

“One hotel owner told me that he was helpless. ‘we have orders’”, Showkat says adding he returned to the railway station and simply caught a train back home.

The harassment of Kashmir citizens travelling in Indian cities was also picked up by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. Azad even asked chief ministers of many states to ensure Kashmiri students and businessman in their states are not harrased.

Despite appeals and assurances the situation on ground has not changed.

Ashraf Ahmad, a Srinagar resident accompanied her sister for a medical examination in New Delhi last week. Ashraf faced similar problems checking in a hotel.

“I was simply denied a room. ‘we have spare rooms but we canot provide you one’ the hotel manager told me in North Delhi citing strict police orders,” relates Ashraf.

“I tried at a few places and got the same replies,” says Ashraf.

Ashraf secured a room only after approaching some Delhi based influential friends. “Other wise I had no option but to leave” says Ashraf.

This month a Kashmiri scholar was beaten ruthlessly in a train compartment by army men, when he revealed his Kashmir background. Minister for Railways Lalu Prasad Yadav issued an inquiry into the incident. Reports of harassment of Kashmiri students and businessman in Bangalore have also poured in the last few weeks.


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