NEW DELHI: Dr Karan Singh,88. whose father Maharaja Hari Singh acceded Jammu and Kashmir to India made a rare appearance before the media to express his anguish about the fear and trepidation that has engulfed his home state. Why? He kept asking wondering what could be a reason so grave that the government cancelled the Amarnath Yatra in its final and most essential stage.

Singh who is with the Congress party but known to be a critical voice within, wanted to know from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government the reasons for “spreading such fear” in the Valley. He said he had seen many ups and downs during his 70 years in active politics, “but this is the first time I am witnessing conditions such as these.”

Singh said that he had participated in the yatra in his younger days, and knew the importance of this stage when the last leg of the pilgrimage was to be undertaken. And now the pilgrims have been told by the government to go back, and abandon the yatra at this crucial juncture.

Why, he kept asking as he spoke to reporters. Saying he was completely baffled. “Surely one or two snipers cannot be the reason for taking such a drastic step, lakhs have come from all across the country and have now been told to go back,” he said. “Kashmir is a tourists paradise and the tourists have been told to flee, thousands of peoples livelihood in both Jammu and Kashmir is linked to the yatra and to tourism” Singh pointed out.

Fear and apprehension has overtaken the state, the people are in a state of complete shock, he said. Over 30000 soldiers have been sent to Kashmir where there is already a huge presence of the military, he added asking “what is the reason, I cannot see any reason for all this.”

“Why are the people being forced to pay such a heavy price, why are they being made to suffer in this manner. My ancestors created this riyasat of all communities and peoples. Half of it we lost, but what remains with us is now full of fear,” the ageing leader who has been a Minister in government and a Member of Parliament said.

What is the reason to create such an environment of anxiety and fear and apprehension, he asked.

The political parties are perplexed and have no idea at all of what is going on. State Governor Satyapal Malik who met regional political leaders reportedly assured them there was nothing to fear. And yet government orders keep being issued, with students also being sent home and institutions closed. Rumours abound leading to wild and ill informed speculation. The government has remained silent with reports suggesting now that Union Home Minister Amit Shah will visit the state after the Parliament session is over.