Calling off Amarnath yatra unprecedented: Karan Singh

Former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Karan Singh on Saturday referred to his last week’s interview to IANS over the issue of Article 370 and 35A in Jammu and Kashmir advising the government to tread carefully and hit out at the Centre for curtailing the Amarnath Yatra over security threat, saying it was “unprecedented”.

Addressing a pres conference at the party headquarters, Karan Singh said: “In my 70 years of public life, I have never seen a situation like this in J&K where even the Amarnath Yatra had to be called off. This will leave a deep impact on Lord Shiva’s devotees, who have come from all parts of the country. This is unprecedented.”

He said the government has not given any concrete reason behind its decision asking the pilgrims and tourists to return.

“An atmosphere of fear and apprehension has seized the Kashmir valley today as everybody there is in state of panic worrying if there would be any attack or something else. In the last few days, over 30,000 additional troops have been sent there,” he said.

Slamming the government, the Congress leader said, “I cannot see a worse situation in the state. The lives of thousands of Kashmiri people is linked with the Amarnath Yatra. Today’s situation being created in Jammu and Kashmir will eventually lead to the end of all development works in the state. There will be severe financial losses.”

“This is the state with which I have been attached for the last 88 years, as here I was born. I don’t know why such a condition is being created,” he said.

He said the closure of Amarnath Yatra in this way is not good.

His remarks came a day after the state home department advised Amarnath Yatra pilgrims and tourists to immediately rush back home. The annual Hindu pilgrimage was scheduled to end on August 15.

Speaking over the other issues such as Article 370 and 35A, Karan Singh said: “I am sharing the copy of the statement I gave to IANS.”

Last week, the senior Congress leader in an interview to IANS on the future course of action for the state which requires an urgent salve and a resolution, said, “Let me start by saying that the accession is final and irrevocable, nowhere am I questioning its ‘wajood’ (existence). This accession has been confirmed and validated by the J&K Constituent Assembly which lies dissolved, so there can be no questions asked about its veracity. Legally, morally and constitutionally, the state is part of the Indian sovereign. However, on Article 370 and 35A, I would advise extreme caution: tread carefully for there are legal, political, constitutional and emotional factors involved which should be thoroughly assessed, I think that is fair warning.”

On being pressed further, he argued that, “There are four critical dimensions to this problem. For starters there is an international dimension with 45 per cent of the original state’s area and 30 per cent of its population (as of October 26, 1947) having been sliced away over the years. Remember that both Pakistan and China are sitting in our territory. We may live in denial and every once in a while talk of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, but there is also Gilgit, Baltistan and the Northern Territories, the largely inhabited Aksai Chin and Shaksgam and Yarkand River Valleys which run adjacent to the Trans Karakoram Tract which have been lopped off.

“In fact, till 1963, the last part was considered part of J&K by Pakistan. It is easy to say ‘Kashmir hamara hai’, but for 50 years I have stayed in Delhi and not once have I seen the ‘dard’ (pain) of this hapless and star-crossed state in Delhi and India. Only lip service has been offered instead.”