Srinagar: At a time when plans to explore new pilgrimage destinations in Kashmir, like the Abhinav Gupt Yatra, have snowballed into controversy, the Dachigam National Park here is likely to be the venue for special Puja.
Officials and witnesses said on Sunday morning, a top spiritual personality, presently camping in Kashmir, flanked by members of his community were seen at the main gate of the Dachigam National Park, some 22 kilometers from the main city in the Himalayas.
The group aspired to enter the restricted area to lay Chaddar at a rock, which they described as Seihpal, in the national park, which is home to endangered Hangul and other wild animals.
The devotees aspired to hold this special Puja at Dachigam on the auspicious day when Mela Kheer Bhawani was being celebrated in adjoining Ganderbal district.
Sources said the visiting dignitary, who heads an international NGO, escorted by his followers, was asked to show permission for entry. The group responded that they had no formal permission but that some lower-rung officials posted in the national park were aware of their visit and would guide them to the Seihpal for a Puja and Chaddar laying, said a Wildlife official, asking not to be named.
This was when the wildlife staff asked one another if anyone of them had made any such commitments. But the response was negative with no one taking responsibility of having asked the devotees to visit the national park for any religious activity.
Sources said given the recent controversies over new exploring pilgrimages in the strife-torn Valley, the wildlife officials got alert asking the devotees to get requisite permission. We didnt want to be part of any controversy, so we played safe, asking them to get permission first, said an official.
But the officials maintained that the devotees were humble and polite to plead their point that they would visit the sacred venue only once in a blue moon. Finally as half-an-hour of deliberations failed, the group, which was escorted by police, took a U-turn without any entry to the national park.
If sources are to be believed, the spiritual group will now seek formal permission from the Forest Ministry for a brief Puja at the sacred site.
Sources said family of a top official, who happens to be disciple of the spiritual guru, was helping the visiting dignitary to explore sacred places in the fragile forests in Kashmir, where centuries ago saints or Reshis are believed to have meditated. In the past, the family of this official even organized special Yoga sessions for the officials of Forest Department.
Wildlife Warden Dachigam, Tahir Shawl, however, feigned ignorance about the issue. I have no such information at all, Shawl said adding Theres no such spot as Seihpal.
But his colleagues while confirming the development said they have been asked not to share any details with media. We have been asked to keep-quite, said an official on the condition of anonymity.
The proposed visit to Dachigam equally coincided with the day when devotees were denied access to central Kashmirs Beerwah for Abhinav Gupt Yatra.
On June 12, the state police prevented Yatris from entering Beerwah cave. A senior police official said forces have been deployed and temporary check points erected at all the entry points to the Beerwah town to thwart the proposed Yatra.
A New Delhi-based organisation, Acharya Abhinav Gupt Samaroh Samiti, has announced the Yatra to the cave in Beerwah, for the first time, in the ongoing second week of June.
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