Union minister for new and renewable energy Farooq Abdullah, also president of ruling National Conference in the state, on Monday pitched for opening of cinema halls and availability of liquor in Kashmir valley to promote tourism in the state.
“When we can have television at home, when we can watch pirated films at our homes despite that being illegal, what is wrong then with the cinemas? Are cinemas not functioning in Pakistan where there is so much fervour about Islam,” said Abdullah in Srinagar while addressing a function organised to commemorate 106th birth anniversary of NC founder Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Earlier in the day, special prayers were also held at the grave of Sheikh at Nagin on the outskirts of Srinagar, in while top stalwarts of the NC paid tributes to Sheikh.
On the occasion, Farooq sough opening of cinema in the Valley, closed in 1989 following armed rebellion in entire state. In 1999, there were attempts to open cinema halls like Neelam and Regal at Lal Chowk but Regal was immediately closed after a grenade was hurled at it. Last week, a downtown Srinagar’s cinema Firdous was evacuated by security forces.
"Cinemas are not here. Where will the tourists go at night? Do you want them to stay inside rooms? People say Islam is in danger. Those who will drink liquor will not ask you and then go to drink,” said senior Abdullah, father of chief minister Omar Abdullah.
Pitching for opening of liquor shops, Abdullas claimed his father opposed the idea of banning liquor in the state despite political pressure.
“When Morarji Desai became the Prime Minister he wanted to ban liquor in the entire country. In 1977, he came here and asked my father to ban liquor here. My father told him this is a tourist area, tourist comes and drink liquor while I earn the revenue from its sale... the question is do we want tourism or not? " asked Farooq.