Srinagar:  Leading an abstemious life for decades, the dream of Jammu and Kashmir residents for a drive to a cinema hall or a stroll to a nearby bar to guzzle some drinks may soon metamorphose into a pleasant reality.

Brushing aside the warning and threats by various groups, Union Minister of New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah has strongly advocated the re-opening of cinema halls and bars in the state.

According to the Union Minister, the move would help fillip the tourism sector in the state. Abdullah said, "When we can have television at home, when we can watch pirated films at our homes, what is wrong with cinemas then? Is this not the violation of Islam?”

Citing the example of neighbouring country Pakistan, Abdullah said, “Even they follow Islam like we do, but no one demands closure of cinema halls and bars there.”

Terming steps like reopening of cinema halls and allowing liquor sale as a shot in the arm for the tourism industry in the state, he said that tourists often complain of not getting any mediums of entertainment after 6pm.

The Union minister asked the media to tone down its reportage of protests as it had a "negative impact" on the tourism industry.

He said the biggest challenge before the state was the lack of proper infrastructure and where to channelise the growing rush of tourists.

"The tourist facilities created at Chesma Shahi are used by government officials for residential purposes and that too free. If the situation has become normal in the state, then why do we have to pay for the travel and accommodation of these officers," Abdullah said.

JPN/Bureau