Army’s Yatra Alarm Widely Condemned

There Is No Threat to Yatra: CM

Bid to Defame Kashmiris: Mirwaiz

It is a Political Stunt: Geelani

Don’t Politicise Yatra: Tarigami

No Question of a Threat: Saraf

SRINAGAR - Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today rubbished reports about security threat to the Amarnath pilgrims.

Omer, while reacting to newspaper reports here quoting army and intelligence sources that militants planned to target this year's Amarnath Yatra beginning June 28, wrote on twitter: "Talk about confusion within intelligence agencies, nowhere in the UHQ (Unified Headquarters) meeting yesterday (Wednesday) was a mention made of an increased threat # yatra."

In another tweet, Omar said: "In fact, I asked a pointed question about whether the threats this year were higher than previous years and the answer was a categorical no."

He also criticised the local media for overplaying the threat. "So, while we will take all the regular precautions with a multi-layer security grid, 'Yatra Attack Feared' headlines are a gross exaggeration," he said.

The chief minister Wednesday chaired a meeting of the Unified Command.

Hurriyat (M) Chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, while rejecting the army claims said, “There is no threat to the yatris and the reports are absolutely misleading. It is a bid to defame the Kashmir movement at the international level.” 

Mirwaiz said the Kashmiris have always welcomed the yatris irrespective of the ground situation in Kashmir. “The yatris are our guests. We have always welcomed them despite the abnormal situation prevailing in Kashmir,”said  Mirwaiz, “The statement of the army that there is a threat to the yatris this year is a brazen lie. It is contrary to the ground realities. We reject these notions and statements”.

He said such statements were issued to justify the militarisation of Kashmir.

Hurriyat (G) Chairman, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, said the yatra alarm was a political stunt aimed at maligning the Kashmir movement. He, however, reiterated his demand of reducing the duration of yatra and organizing the yatra on Gangotri pattern.

“We are not against the yatra. In 2008, when the hindutva forces in Jammu blocked the Srinagar-Jammu highway and prevented even the baby milk to enter Kashmir, our people hosted the yatris with traditional fervour. But the army is now giving it a political and communal colour and projecting Kashmiris as anti-yatra in India and the world over,” said Geelani.

Offering a word of caution to both the Centre and the State, the CPI (M) State Secretary Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said the issue of security of pilgrims should not be politicised as it incremented the element of uncertainty to the annual pilgrimage “which is integral to Kashmir ethos”.

In a statement issued here today, Tarigami expressed dismay over attempts being made to give “unnecessary” hype to the security of the pilgrims saying that such assumptions were doing no service either to the country or the smooth proceedings of the pilgrimage.

“Amarnath Yatra is integral to Kashmiri ethos and during the most critical times, the people of Kashmir have wholeheartedly cooperated to facilitate the smooth passage of the pilgrimage,” he said, adding that the people of Kashmir need didn’t need to prove their religious tolerance. “People of Kashmir have always given their best in terms of hospitality and security of the pilgrims,” said Tarigami.

National President Lok Janshakti Party (Yuva), Sanjay Saraf expressed a strong displeasure over the controversial statement.  

He said that during the heyday of militancy as well as during the turmoil in 2008 and 2010, Kashmiri people provided full support and cooperation in the smooth conduct of Yatra, “then how come during the days of peace, the yatra faces a threat”.

Saraf said the yatra is an example of the Hindu-Muslim brotherhood in the Valley. “So such statements are totally against the basic fabric and culture of Kashmir where Kashmiri people treat it their foremost duty to provide full cooperation and facilities to the yatris,” said Saraf.

 

The pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine will commence simultaneously from Baltal and Pahalgam routes on June 28 and culminate on Raksha Bandhan (Aug 21).

The traditional Pahalgam route involves a trek of 46 km from Pahalgam tourist resort, 100 km south of Srinagar, while the route from Baltal, 110 km north of Srinagar, is a shorter but quite steep and arduous.

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