Annual Hindu Pilgrimage To Kashmir Ends Without Incident
30 August 2004
Voice of America
New Delhi: More than 300,000 Hindus have completed an annual pilgrimage in the disputed region of Kashmir without any reports of violence. The 45- day journey to the Amarnath shrine ended Monday, on the holiday of Raksha Bandhan - without incident for a second straight year. In previous years, Muslim rebels attacked and killed Hindu pilgrims. This year, at least 12,000 Indian soldiers guarded the Himalayan route. The pilgrims brave harsh terrain to reach a 4,000-meter-high cave, where they revere an ice stalagmite believed to represent Shiva. Kashmir is a source of hostility between India and Pakistan, as both claim the region. More than 60,000 people have been killed in clashes in the dispute. The two nations have held a series of talks aimed at ending hostilities.