Let Amarnath Yatra go smoothly
Jammu and Kashmir Government imposing restrictions on themovement of civilian traffic for five hours on Srinagar-Jammu National Highwayfrom Pantha Chowk to Nashree to facilitate the movement of Amarnath pilgrimshas triggered a row.
All the political parties have cut across the party lines todenounce the five hour restriction on the civilian vehicular movement and onthe trains plying between Srinagar to Banihal.
The restrictions on the movement of the civilian vehicles,according to the authorities, have been imposed due to security reasons. Thereis no doubt about the fact that security of pilgrims cannot be compromised withbut along with that the government needs to take a note of the problems beingfaced by the locals due to the 5-hour restriction decision.
Just few days ago the Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya PalMalik said that it's the people of the Valley who make the yatra successful. Ifit's so, then the government should reconsider its decision to restrict themovement of the civilians on the highway.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has been in news sincethe beginning of this year. It remained closed for more than thirty days due tothe inclement weather conditions in the winter months. The highway closure ledto the shortage of essential commodities in the Valley. The highway once againhogged the headlines in February this year after a suicide bomber rammed theexplosive laden vehicle with a bus carrying Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)personnel near Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district. The attack left atleast 40 CRPF men dead. It shook the entire security apparatus and stringentmeasures were put in place to facilitate the movement of the security forcesconvoy.
In April this year the administration imposed therestrictions on the movement of civilian vehicles from Baramulla to Udhampurtwice in a week to pave the way for movement of the convoys of the securityforces. The ban was lifted in phased manner and soon after the Lok Sabhaelections ended the restrictions were done away with.
Despite the highway ban being lifted the security forcesdidn't lower the guard and keep a strict vigil on the highway. After the commencement of the 45-day annualAmarnath Yatra, the authorities issued another order stating that no civilianvehicles would move on the highway from 10 am to 3 pm.
People at the helm believe that the restriction order cannotbe compromised with and people would have to bear with the administration tillthe annual pilgrimage ends. This yearAmarnath yatra seems to be just a security related affair and it's completelydifferent from the past years. Earlier pilgrims used to keep on arriving andleaving the Valley 24×7. Besides paying obeisance at the cave shrine they usedto visit different areas and one could see the pilgrims everywhere in Kashmir.This time around the pilgrims are not being allowed to move as per their willand they have been left with no other option other than to follow theinstructions.
The annual Amarnath yatra, which used to symbolize thecommunal harmony has got confined to high security affair. The security planfor the ongoing pilgrimage looks fool proof as the authorities have not leftmuch to the chance. People at the helm seem to be of the opinion that nochances can be taken till the situation returns to normal in South Kashmir,which is considered to be the citadel of the militancy.
The Pulwama attack has changed the security scenario in theValley and it looks like that nineties have returned. One hopes that situationin Kashmir changes fast and changes for the good so that the people as well asthe Amarnath pilgrims could breathe easy.
People at the helm need to bear it in mind that the local populace in Kashmir has been a part and parcel of the annual Amarnath pilgrimage for the past many decades there was time when the Amarnath Yatra was managed by locals only and administration had no role to play in it. May be some fringe elements want to disrupt the annual pilgrimage but maximum people in Kashmir want annual Amarnath pilgrimage to be conducted smoothly as they know that these pilgrims act as brand ambassadors for Kashmir and its people.
The writer is a Former Journalist and member of JK Youthalliance