Restrictions On Visit To Gurez Lifted

3 January 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Amin Masoodi

Bandipora: Residents of the Gurez valley in Bandipora district have welcomed the state government's decision to do away with the 'mandatory permit' required for visiting the Gurez valley. Locals hope that the valley would attract visitors once again and boost job opportunities, especially for the unemployed youth. 'Gurez is no less beautiful than Pahalgam or Gulmarg. Earlier, domestic and foreign tourists hesitated to visit the valley due to hectic permission process, but now everybody can visit the valley,' said Naseer Ahmad, a resident of Nowpora near Bandipora. The authorities yesterday lifted curbs on travelling to the Gurez valley. Welcoming the move, the locals, mostly tribal people, hoped that now the tourists would visit the Valley in large numbers. 'I am looking forward to setting up a hotel in one of the most beautiful villages of the Valley - Dawar - and I am hopeful this venture will help me earn a good living. For all these years, we have been waiting for lifting of restrictions and we are happy that our long-pending demand was fulfilled,' said Ishfaq Ahmad, a graduate from Markoot village of Gurez. The State Home Department on December 31, 2014, denotified 24 villages in the Gurez valley, declared as protected under the Public Safety Act in 1978. The Gurez valley, with Dawar as its central location, is 85 km from the district headquarters of Bandipora. It remains cut off from the rest of the Valley and the state for nearly six months of winter due to accumulation of snow on Razdan Pass. Gurez was carved out as a separate constituency from the Bandipora Assembly constituency in 1995. It has a population of over 36,000.