Kargil seeks to shrug off its ‘war zone’ tag, claim place as tourist destination

Tour operators and hoteliers say Kargil is still living in the shadow of the 1999 Kargil war between India and Pakistan.

Keen to shrug off its “war zone” tag, around 500 families in Kargil are looking to the Centre to pump funds and promote the region as a tourist destination internationally after the move to accord it Union Territory status.

During the tourism minister’s three day visit to Leh last week, tour operators and hoteliers from the region appealed to him to focus on Kargil, which they claimed is still living in the shadow of the 1999 Kargil war between India and Pakistan.

“Even 20 years after the war, if you type Kargil in a search engine, the first result that pops up is Kargil war. That is so unfair to the people of the region whose mainstay is tourism. Because of the war zone tag, we have never realised our potential of being a tourist destination despite the region having various places of interest,” said Ashraf Ali from the All Kargil Travel, Trade Association.

The Kargil war lasted for nearly three months, killed more than 500 Indian and nearly 400 Pakistani soldiers, and ended with India pushing back Pakistani fighters to the other side of the LoC successfully. While Pakistan called its operation to take over the control of Indian posts along the LoC as Operation Badr, India called its offensive Operation Vijay.

With the Narendra Modi government according Leh and Kargil Union Territory status on August 5, both these previous…

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