But the question is who is responsible?
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah last week summoned courage to take on the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani on the issue of the fictionalised road to Amarnath shrine in Kashmir. Omar, it seems, has changed his mind about the separatists for a while, the political compulsions have guided him to do so. Political compulsions are obvious. He doesn’t want any trouble at this stage when he is being complimented for having seized the initiative of turning tables on the traditional trouble makers. It is no denying the fact that the two years – 2011 and 2012 were unthinkable in 2010 or 2009 or 2008. Whosoever may claim the credit for that, but the fact of the matter is that Omar Abdullah, himself, and his government, particularly the state police had lot to contribute in turning the corner that brought relative peace, tourists and generated a lot of economic activity in the Kashmir Valley.
Omar, who is set to face Assembly elections in 2014, if not earlier than that, knows that he has very limited time at his disposal - 26 months to be precise- to show the results, peace and boom in tourism are something that he can count at the time of polls. Any disturbance at the scale, or close to that of 2008 or 2010 would put the things in torn days of 2008 and 2010. That is weighing on his mind. Hence, the offer to Geelani to use the state helicopter and a photographer of separatist leader’s choice to do a reality check of the tracks leading to Shri Amarnathji cave shrine. “ Not even a single yard of the track has been macadamised nor is there any proposal to do so”. He also posed a question to Geelani, ‘ has he read the report. The word road has not been used anywhere in the report of the Supreme Court, prepared in the light of the directions of the Supreme Court.
Separatists politicized the Amarnath pilgrimage after them `mainstream' politicians did it. First it was Peoples Democratic Party and its leaders who played the game without realising the consequences. It were PDP ministers who had stamped on the approval for the diversion of 100 acres of land at Baltal and Sangam in early 2008, complying with the then Congress Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. The then Chief Minister, who is a proficient political chess player was hoping for the rich dividends in the 2008 Assembly elections and live upto his word that he would stay in the state politics for decades together. National Conference leaders were not far behind. Omar Abdullah also added fuel to fire, when on July 22, 2008, he said that not even a single inch of land would be conceded.
That time , he was in Opposition, so he could afford any set of posture, because he had no accountability toward any one. Hope he, remembers that one of the major questions that he used to ask: “ What happened to Rs. 24,000 crore that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allocated under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan”, better known as PMRP. Since January 5, 2009, this question has not been heard from him. This is the difference being in the Opposition and the Government.
Coming back to Shri Amarnath pilgrimage, it should be acknowledged that this pilgrimage is pilgrimage like other pilgrimages. And the record of the 150 years or more that of the at the yatra, not a single pilgrim has settled there. Leave aside the pilgrims, the Indian army that is guarding the frontiers at the height of 18,000 ft. and above, pack up their camps once the yatra is over. Who would stay in the freezing temperatures.
Now comes the issue of environment. There are two points. One, the litter that pilgrims spread while undertaking the pilgrimage, and the second is the fragile ecology of the area, which gets disturbed by the heavy movement of pilgrims, security forces, state police and others during the pilgrimages. Some of the glaciers that feed river of Kashmir form part of the pilgrimage route. These environmental issues need to be taken care of. Although Shri Amarnath Shrine Bard and the state government have taken certain steps, but more needs to be done. It is in the same category of importance as is the life of pilgrim undertaking the yatra.
It would be interesting to note that what steps would be taken in 2013. Let’s not visit the past, thee should be future looking measures.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 22 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST
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