SRINAGAR: As talk of war looms in the air, people of Kashmir, in yet another example of great hospitality, have opened their homes and hearts to tourists and non-local work force stranded in the Valley.

A number of residents and hoteliers in the Valley are offering free food and accommodation to tourists who, amid growing Indo-Pak tensions, might be stranded due to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only surface link that connects the landlocked region with the rest of the world.

“We are offering free accommodation and free food to tourists who might be stranded here. They are our guests and we will make all efforts to ensure their safety. In these troubled times, it is a priority for us to make them comfortable,” said Mushtaq Chaya, a prominent hotelier who owns the Radisson group of hotels in the state.

Earlier this week, a number of hotels based in the summer capital Srinagar and elsewhere also came out with similar offer of free food and accommodation for tourists who might be stranded in the Valley even as fighter jets hovered in the skies and the prospect of war seemed real.

A number of posts by individual Kashmiris on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter also invited tourists who might be stuck in the Valley to stay with them while offering them free accommodation and free food.

“For anyone stuck in Srinagar & running low on funds, please feel free to take up this offer,” former chief minister Omar Abdullah wrote on Twitter, while posting the message from Srinagar-based Hotel The Kaiser which asked tourists to “come and stay with us for free till the situation gets normal.”

Kashmir Hotel and Restaurant Association, a prominent body of hoteliers in the Valley, has also asked stranded tourists in the Valley to get in touch so that they can be accommodated till the situation gets normal. “Tourists are our guests and we will open our homes and hearts for them in these bad times,” the association’s general secretary Mehboob Mir said.

Amid heightening Indo-Pak tensions, this remarkable display of hospitality by Kashmiris is in sharp contrast with the treatment meted out to Kashmiri traders and students in different parts of the country following the February 14 suicide bombing.

Dozens of Kashmiri students and traders were hounded, humiliated, manhandled and even roughed up in isolated incidents reported across the country in the aftermath of the Pulwama bombing, forcing them to return home.

“The difference. A hotel from Agra wrote ‘Dogs are allowed but not Kashmiris’ now in the time of difficulty a hotel from Kashmir declares - Free boarding and lodging until flights resume. Salute to Kashmiri hospitality and humanity. Spread love not hate,” Ashok Kumar Pandey wrote on Facebook.