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Air India Facilitates Exit of Stranded Tourists, Pilgrims From Kashmir Amid Escalation

© REUTERS / Pascal RossignolAir India Airlines Boeing 787 (File)
Air India Airlines Boeing 787 (File) - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s national carrier Air India has announced a further reduction of fares for flights operating between the cities of Srinagar and Delhi to facilitate the exit of tourists and pilgrims stranded in Kashmir following the imposition of security-related prohibitions by the government.

Air India said in a statement issued over the weekend that maximum fares on connecting flights between Srinagar and Delhi would be under $99 (7,000 Rupees).

Dhananjay Kumar, a spokesman for the national carrier, said, "Air India has further reduced the fare from Rs 9,500 ($135). It is holding the maximum fare at Rs 6,715 (about $95) for the Srinagar-Delhi route and at Rs 6,899 (about $98) for the Delhi-Srinagar route till the 15th of August. "

A number of netizens welcomed the airline’s announcement of reduced fares between the two cities, given the tense political situation in Kashmir.

​Air India’s decision to reduce fares came after India’s Civil Aviation Ministry advised airlines to keep fares down to allow pilgrims and tourists to take flights out of Srinagar to other parts of the country after the government of Jammu and Kashmir asked them to curtail their stay in the state, given the prevailing security situation.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the country's aviation regulator, also advised air operators on Friday (2 August) to be ready to operate additional flights from Srinagar Airport, should the need arise.

On Friday, the Indian Army, citing intelligence inputs, said Pakistan-based terrorists were planning to target the ongoing pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave, a holy shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Jammu and Kashmir at a height of 3,888 metres, which Hindus visit annually between June and September. The Army's disclosure prompted the local administration to ask both pilgrims and tourists to curtail their stay in the Kashmir Valley.

Last week, according to local media reports, the Indian government ordered the deployment of additional troops in Kashmir (ranging between 10,000 and 35,000 personnel).

The provincial government has also imposed certain restrictions under Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to maintain law and order.

Relations between India and Pakistan have historically been tense over competing claims to parts of the Kashmir region since the time both gained independence from the British Empire in 1947.

Tensions escalated in the Kashmir Valley after a deadly suicide bomb attack in the Pulwama region on 14 February this year, which killed over 40 security personnel. The Indian Air Force retaliated with an airstrike on what it claimed was a terror training camp operated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a banned militant organisation, in Balakot on the Pakistani side of Kashmir.

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