National Conference leader Omar Abdullah today said that the centre owes the people of the country an explanation for "creating panic" in Jammu and Kashmir by cancelling pilgrimages across the state and instructing tourists to leave at the earliest.
"I am willing to accept that there must have been something very drastic that required the government to stop the Amarnath Yatra, but that does not explain why the Machail Yatra, the Budha Amarnath Yatra or other yatras were cancelled. It also does not explain why they dragged people out of their hotel rooms kicking and screaming, telling them that they have to leave," Omar Abdullah told NDTV.
The former Chief Minister's remark comes on a day when leaders of all major political parties in the state met at the residence of his father, Farooq Abdullah, to discuss the fallout of the government's decision. The meeting was called by Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti, who has accused the centre of "willingly" causing panic and distress in the state.
Omar Abdullah said that although the Amarnath Yatra has never been called off in the 30 years of turmoil in Jammu and Kashmir so far, he was willing to go along with it in the interests of pilgrims' safety. "But to suggest that there is a threat to every single tourist (is uncalled for). Are they saying that they have allowed the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to deteriorate to such an extent that every single tourist, every single labourer, every single outsider and every single journalist is threatened? If that's the case, why doesn't the government say so in parliament?" he asked.
The National Conference leader said that he has asked his colleagues in parliament to move an adjournment motion tomorrow to seek reasons for the government's action. Governor Satya Pal Malik's assurance from the previous day had failed to reassure him either, he added.
"Wouldn't I be worried if the governor of the state says that nothing is happening today, but he doesn't know about tomorrow? If he's confused about what to expect, how can you expect anyone of us to know what's in the offing?" he asked. "Other than being told that there's some vague (terror) threat, nothing concrete is being shared with the country."