Amarnath Yatris Pushed To Kashmir To Boost Army's Morale: Geelani

Amarnath Yatris Pushed To Kashmir To Boost Army's Morale: Geelani

26 August 2012
India Today


Srinagar: Hardline Hurriyat Conference leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani sees a plot behind the increasing number of pilgrims visiting the holy Amarnath cave. Geelani on Sunday accused New Delhi of sending yatris to the holy cave of Amarnath Shrine in Kashmir to 'consolidate occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and boost the morale of Indian Army.' 'In 90s some hundred yatris would come for yatra. Now this year 6.30 lakh yatris visited the Shri Amarnath shrine. The Supreme Court wants to have a road constructed up to the shrine. The BJP has recently said that it would raise infrastructure around and enroute the shrine. Congress plans are not different. They want to convey to us that we are here and we are not going to leave Jammu and Kashmir,' Geelani said addressing a conference at his residence in Srinagar. It is the first time the hardline separatist leader has spoken against construction of road up to the cave. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, moderate separatist leader, was first to speak against the construction of the road. Geelani said yatris are being pushed to Kashmir to overawe Kashmiris. On July 13, the Supreme Court expressed shock over deaths of yatris during trekking to the holy cave of Amarnath located 3888 metres above sea level and took suo moto cognizance of the case. The Apex Court said, 'Government cannot escape its obligation to provide minimum essential facilities including roads as an approach to the holy cave. They are expected to equip their forces posted in and around the cave so as to have complete human dignity for the persons working there as well as for the pilgrims to the holy cave.' This year 86 yatris died enroute to holy cave. The Court constituted a Special High Powered Committee (SHPC) headed by Governor of J&K, who is also the Chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). The SHPC has to visit the site, examine various issues and submit its report to the Supreme Court. The state government on August 20 said that the Apex Court has not issued directions for construction of the road. 'The state government will not approve any such measure,' minister for finance Abdul Rahim Rather and the minister for health Sham Lal Sharma said after the separatists criticised any move to construct the road. In 2008 massive protests broke out in Kashmir against transfer of forest land to the SASB. Geelani criticised, what he called the heavy influx of Bihari labourers to the Valley and said it was being done by design. 'One day they would be provided citizenship of the state. The government is doing all this to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir,' he said.