Srinagar, Dec 5: Union Minister Farooq Abdullah today said cinemas and liquor shops should reopen in Kashmir to give more options to tourists visiting the state.
“When we can have television at home, when we can watch pirated films at our homes what is wrong with cinemas then?
“Are not these functioning in Pakistan where there is so much fervour about Islam,” Abdullah said. Steps like reopening of cinemas and liquor sale would boost the tourism industry in the state, he said.
The Minister for New and Renewable Energy was addressing a function to celebrate the birth anniversary of his father and National Conference founder Shiekh Mohammad Abdullah here.
“The cinemas are not here, where will the tourists go at night. Do you want them to stay inside the room?” Abdullah said.
The Union Minister asked the media to tone down its reportage of protests as it had a “negative impact” on the Tourism industry.
He said the biggest challenge before the state was the lack of proper infrastructure and where to channelise the growing rush of tourists.
“The tourist facilities created at Chesma Shahi are used by government officials for residential purposes and that too free. If the situation has become normal in the state, then why do we have to pay for the travel and accommodation of these officers,” Abdullah said.
“Time has changed and we shall also change now,” he said.
Quoting an incident, Farooq Abdullah said former Prime Minister Morarji Desai had once proposed Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, then Chief Minister of the state, to ban the sale of liquor in Jammu and Kashmir but his father refused.
“When Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister, he wanted to ban liquor in the entire country.
“When he came here in 1977, he asked my father to ban liquor in the state. My father told him this is a tourist area. Tourists come and drink liquor while I earn revenue from its sale. The question is do we want tourism or not,” the Minister said.