After the Indian government warned of the risk of “terror” attacks, thousands of visitors and students scrambled to get places on aircraft and buses leaving Kashmir on Saturday.
Thousands of military reinforcements arrived in the Himalayan land, also claimed by Pakistan, where tens of thousands of people were killed by a three-decade-old insurgency.
The state government of Jammu and Kashmir said late Friday that visitors should leave “instantly” due to new intelligence about “terror threats” to a significant Hindu pilgrimage in the region.
In the primary town of Srinagar, anxious visitors, including some foreigners, flooded the airport on Saturday, many that day without flight tickets. The Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage, which attracts hundreds of thousands of Hindus each year, has increased the number of visitors.
Due to the fear, the pilgrimage was canceled. Even before the warning, an enormous safety force had guarded the path. A second smaller pilgrimage, the Machail Mata Yatra, in the Jammu region was also canceled on Saturday.
Hundreds of Indian students were evacuated in buses from outside Kashmir. On Friday night after the alert was announced, Kashmiri citizens created lengthy lines outside gas stations, food shops, and bank cash machines. But on Saturday, the queues eased.
India and Pakistan split Kashmir when they became independent in 1947 but both claim it in its entirety and have fought two of three wars over the territory since then.