SRINAGAR Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti has claimed that the arrangements made for the annual Amarnath Yatra are causing inconvenience in the day-to-day lives of the people of Kashmir and has requested Governor Satya Pal Malik to intervene in the matter.
“Amarnath Yatra is taking place for years. But unfortunately, the arrangements done this year are against the people of Kashmir. It’s causing a lot of trouble in the day-to-day lives of local people. I would like to request the Governor to intervene in this,” the former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister told reporters on July 7.
Denouncing the government’s restriction on the use of Jammu-Srinagar highway by civilians during Amarnath Yatra, she said, “This Yatra signifies brotherhood. This year the arrangements are done to irk locals. They cannot use the highways, even in an emergency they are forced to wait for pilgrims to pass.”
“This is excesses against people by the Central government. I urge the Governor to take action and open the highway for locals,” she asserted.
Meanwhile, National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah on Sunday said it was the “height of incompetence and laziness” that the administration of Jammu and Kashmir Governor S.P. Malik required restrictions on movement of civilian vehicles on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway for the security of Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
Abdullah, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, said the governor’s administration was the only administration in 30 years that has required the closure of the highway.
“It’s not that we are unconcerned about yatri security, far from it. It’s that the administration of Governor Malik is the only administration in 30 years that has required the closure of the highway/railway line to protect yatris and that’s the height of incompetence & laziness,” he tweeted.
Abdullah was responding to Malik’s remarks that the people of Kashmir should bear such restrictions as it was a matter of security of pilgrims. Reacting to the restriction, NC leaders Hasnain Masoodi and Akbar Lone decried the restriction, saying that the “diktat” will put the public to undue duress.
“The diktat will hamper the economic activity of traders. The highway is no less than an arteryit is our lifeline. It is not just the economic activity that will suffer with the ban but patients too. How can they reach hospitals? How can students and working class move to and fro?” Masoodi, the MP from Anantnag, said.
Meanwhile, Lone, the MP from Baramulla, said the move will inadvertently hit the movement of civilian traffic on the highway. “The sole national highway connecting Srinagar with the rest of country already suffers from intermittent blockages due to the vagaries of weather. The diktat of putting restrictions on the vehicular movement, if it persists, will put the public to undue duress. The step is bound to hamper the easy movement of tourist inflow to Kashmir. Moreover, the diktat will affect the traders by spoiling Kashmir-bound perishable items and vice versa,” Lone said.
Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have barred civilian traffic on Qazigund-Nashri stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for five-and-a-half hours from 10am to 3:30pm in order to allow incident-free passage to vehicles carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
The 46-day long Amarnath Yatra kicked off on July 1 and will conclude on the 15th of next month coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
Since the start of the pilgrimage, over 95,000 devotees have paid obeisance at the holy cave shrine.