‘Decision taken for the safety of devotees’
For the first time in the history of Jammu and Kashmir the state administration has decided to cancel the annual fair at the Hindu shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas citing security reasons.
Popularly known as ‘Baba Chamliyal’, the fair is held every year at about 42 kilometers from Jammu in the Ramgarh sector of district Samba near the International Border (IB).
Additional Deputy Commissioner Samba, Tilak Raj Sharma said that the decision to cancel the annual fair was taken for the safety of devotees. As per tradition people on either sides of the Indo-Pak International Border hold separate fairs at their respective sides on fourth Thursday of June every year to celebrate 350-year-old ‘Chamliyal Mela’. This year the fair was scheduled to be held on 28 June.
“The situation on border is not conducive. We recently (on June 13) lost four BSF troopers including an officer due to sniper fire from Pakistani side,” said Sharma, who is also the nodal officer for the annual fair. “The BSF in its report expressed some reservations and suggested that situation along the border is not favorable for such a big event which had witnessed attendance of over a lakh people in the past.”
“There is mistrust and uncertainty all along the border, so it’s not advisable to risk lives of thousands of civilians devotes coming from across the country,” he said. “As per our knowledge both sides (India and Pakistan) failed to break ice during the recent meeting and cannot build a rapport of trust right now,” the ADC said, adding that on the advice of BSF and district administration Samba, they decided not to hold this year’s event.
Locals said that thousands of devotees have been participating in the separate fairs for decades every year on either side of the border. They said it’s probably for the first time in the history that the annual event has been canceled by the authorities.