Deputy CM of Jammu & Kashmir keen to tap Goa’s tourism potential

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PANAJI: Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Nirmal Singh, on Thursday, said that he is interested in tapping the tourism potential of Goa and linking it to his state.

Singh, who is currently in Goa, also said that he will meet the Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and the Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza to discuss the matter with them, at all levels including at the economic level.

Addressing a press conference at the state Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters, Singh said that like Goa, the state of Jammu and Kashmir also has tremendous tourism potential in terms of its water sports and clubs, besides the Dal Lake.

“We are also receiving impressive response in glacier tourism, and religious tourism, with the state getting more than 1.25 crore religious tourists every year, including those from Goa,” he added, pointing out that casinos could be considered as a potential source for tourism promotion in Jammu and Kashmir, but is not on the priority list of his government.

Describing that the alliance government of the Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, presently governing Jammu and Kashmir is not following an alliance of ideology or alliance of politics, but alliance of good governance, he said that although the Special Status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir has advantages like direct provision of funds to his state, without having to approach the National Planning Commission, it has also resulted in creating a separatist mindset in the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “The BJP is working towards eliminating this mindset altogether,” he maintained, stating that it is really unfortunate to see people from Jammu and Kashmir feeling that they are not fully absorbed into the Indian mainstream.

Assuring that the present-day Jammu and Kashmir is far from the terrorism-ridden Jammu and Kashmir of the 1990s, the Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir said that the people visiting his state are now safe and need not fear anybody.

He also brushed away the incidents of waving of ISIS flags in Jammu and Kashmir, stating that these are one of two stray incidents, and those who are doing it want media coverage for these events.

Replying to a question, Singh said that the process of rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits by way of ‘homecoming’ has already started, and is on the priority list of his government.

“However, it is still unsafe for them to reside in their native homes, and therefore, we have set up composite colonies for them within security zones,” he revealed, stating that the returning Kashmiri Pandits, who were government employees in the past, would also get back their jobs.