24 villages de-notified from ‘protected areas list’
The Jammu and Kashmir government has finally done away with the mandatory permit that was required for visiting the Gurez Valley in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. This newspaper had reported on August 9, 2014 that the government was mulling to lift curbs on travelling to the picturesque Valley.
The State Home Department vide SRO-635, dated December 31, 2014 has de-notified 24 villages declared as protected under the Public Safety Act in 1978 (SRO 243 of 1978 dated 27.04.1978.
Under the PSA—apart from preventive detentions for six and three months—certain areas and places can be declared as prohibited and protected to regulate the entry of persons in these areas.
“There shall be no travel restriction for Indians to visit the Gurez villages namely Koragbal, Gulshanpora, Kanzalwan, Badwan, Wanpora, Khopri, Khandiyal, Dawar, Mastan, Markoot, Shahpora Baja, ShahporaPayeen, Zedgy, PTL, Jurniyal, Jawdara, Neroo, Budugam, Saradab, Gundgul Sheikh, Malangam, Buduab, Gujran and Abdullan,” the notification issued by Principal Secretary, Home, Suresh Kumar, reads.
According to a mechanism chalked out by the state government in consultation with the Army and intelligence agencies, the Police department shall set-up a check point at DawarGurez for registration and verification of incoming tourists.
“The tourists/people visiting these areas/villages shall be required to submit a copy of valid document issued by any government agency/Public Sector Undertaking, as proof of their identity,” the notification reads. “However, the natives of Gurez valley shall not be required to submit any such document.”
Deputy Commissioner BandiporaDr Shah Faisal termed the development as “new year gift” for people of Kashmir.
“This is a major initiative and we were anticipating it for a long time,” he said, adding, “The permit system was a main obstacle which kept local and foreign tourists away from Gurez Valley.”