Srinagar: National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah on Monday hit back at J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik for saying in the day that restrictions on civilian traffic on the national highway during Amarnath Yatra were down to just two hours and people should bear with it.

Speaking to media, Abdullah said, “Kashmiri tourism ko bhi pareshani hai, kya zarurat hai band karne ki? Pehle bhi vo aaram se chalte the, aaj bhi aaram se chalte hain. Isse kya hota hai ki friction paida hota hai. (Tourism is hit. What was the need of this? They (yatris) could walk conveniently earlier also and they will continue to do so now as well. This only creates friction).”

On the two-hour restriction, Abdullah said, “Ab inhone toh do ghante ka kiya hai, wo do ghante bhi nahi rakhna chahiye kyunki ye dharm ka mamla hai aur dharm pe koi hamla karne wala nahi hai (they have put the restriction for two hours but even that wasn’t necessary. This is a matter of faith and nobody would attack someone’s faith).”

Earlier, Malik had reacted to former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah’s charge that the restrictions went against the people of the state. The Governor said that the restriction was not going to impact tourism in the state.

He also said that UP saw such a restriction for 20 days during Kanwar Yatra but nobody complained there. Recalling the February 14 terror attack in Pulwama, he said that people know what has happened on this highway.

On Sunday, Mehbooba had said that the precautions the government was taking were affecting the day-to-day lives of locals. “Amarnath Yatra is taking place since years. But unfortunately, the arrangements done this year are against the people of Kashmir. It’s causing a lot of trouble in the day-to-day lives of local people,” she was quoted as saying by ANI.

However, she did not elaborate on what arrangements were causing inconvenience to the locals.

Omar had also echoed such sentiments and said that Kashmiris were concerned with the security of the yatris but the current administration was the only one in 30 years to have decided to close the highway/railway line to protect the yatris.

The 45-day Amarnath Yatra started last week and around one lakh pilgrims have already made their way to the holy shrine. On the 8th day of the yatra, 15,732 yatris paid obeisance at the Holy Cave. Till date 1,11,655 yatris have had the darshan of the Shivling.