In view of a looming security threat in the valley, the Congress party has urged the Centre to not take any decision that would precipitate a crisis in Jammu and Kashmir and asked it to ensure the constitutional guarantees given to the state are maintained.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti echoed the sentiment, asking where the local people would go in case of panic.
The appeal to the government came after the Army said Pakistan-based terrorists were planning to target the Amarnath Yatra in the Kashmir Valley but security forces are up to the task to foil any such design.
After the Army's announcement, the Jammu and Kashmir government asked Amarnath Yatris and tourists to cut short their stay in the Valley and return as soon as possible.
To this end, a Congress policy planning group on Jammu and Kashmir met under the chairmanship of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.
"There was deep concern expressed at the continuous reports emanating from both the Union Home Ministry and the State Government which were creating an atmosphere of panic and apprehension about the intentions of the government," an official statement said.
It said the "massive build-up" of security forces, curtailment of the Sri Amarnath Yatra, also the unprecedented advisories being issued to the tourists, yatris and other civilians, were all creating an atmosphere of heightened insecurity and fear.
The meeting was attended among others by state's former 'Sadr-e-Riyasat' Karan Singh, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, former home minister P Chidambaram, Congress in-charge for J&K affairs Ambika Soni, CWC member Tariq Hamid Karra, J&K PCC President Ghulam Ahmed Mir and former CLP Leader Rigzing Zora.
The group monitors the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and comes out with policy planning and suggestions on behlf of the Congress party.
Mehbooba Mufti, in a separate press briefing said, "Due to recent developments here, there is an atmosphere of fear. I have never seen such panic. One one side, Governor sahib says that the situation is normal. On the other side, deployment of additional forces is being done.
"Amarnath pilgrims and tourists are being sent back. But, you are not thinking where the Kashmiris, and people of Jammu and Ladakh will go."
DGCA advises airlines to be ready to operate extra flights from Srinagar
Meanwhile, aviation regulator DGCA has advised airlines to remain ready to operate additional flights from the Srinagar airport if the need arises, according to a source.
"DGCA has advised airlines to remain ready. If there is a need, airlines should be ready to run extra flights," a source privy to the development told PTI.
"Around 8.45pm, the situation at the Srinagar airport was checked by the DGCA and it was found to be normal. It was found that there is no need to run extra flights right now. But if the need arises later on, the airlines have been advised to remain ready to run extra flights," the source added.
To this end, national carrier Air India tweeted, "#FlyAI : In view of the prevailing circumstances, AI will give a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all #airindia flights to/from #Srinagar till Aug 15th August."
IndiGo said on Twitter, "In view of the current security situation in Srinagar and the Government advisory regarding it, we are providing a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Srinagar till Aug 09, 2019."
In view of the current security situation in Srinagar and the Government advisory regarding it, we are providing a full fee waiver on rescheduling/cancellation for all flights to/from Srinagar till Aug 09, 2019. Reach out to us on Twitter, FB or chat at https://t.co/MLOVgXpFO0.— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) August 2, 2019
With around 49 per cent share in the domestic air-passenger market, IndiGo is the leading airline in the country.
Vistara tweeted, "Due to prevailing security situation in Kashmir, we are waiving change and cancellation fees for flights to/from Jammu and Kashmir for next seven days (till August 9, 2019). Only fare difference, if any, will be applicable for date changes."
'As a precautionary measure'
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik has said the advisory to curtail Amarnath Yatra was issued only "as a precautionary measure".
A delegation, consisting of Mehbooba Mufti, Shah Faesal, Sajjad Lone and Imran Ansari, met Malik, seeking clarification on the events of the day.
Malik told them it was "the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens and therefore, as a precautionary measure, Yatris and tourists were asked to return."
J&K Governor informed the delegation of credible inputs regarding terrorist attacks on the Amarnath Yatra & that it is the responsibility of the state to provide security to all its citizens. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, Yatris and tourists have been asked to return. https://t.co/wUhPEEP2Vl— ANI (@ANI) August 2, 2019
NIT, Srinagar shut down till further orders
In view of the threat, all class work at National Institute of Technology, Srinagar was suspended till further orders.
The order was issued late Friday night.
(with inputs from agencies)