Allow Restricted Amarnath Yatra: J&K BJP President

BJP J&K President Ravinder Raina | File Photo

Jammu- With coronavirus casting a shadow on the upcoming annual Amarnath yatra, Jammu and Kashmir BJP president Ravinder Raina on Monday said a restricted pilgrimage should be facilitated if the prevailing Covid situation does not allow a full-fledged yatra.

The 56-day pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, housing the naturally formed ice-Shivling, is scheduled to start from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal on June 28 and culminate on August 22.

Shiv devotees from across the globe visit Amarnath every year for ‘darshan’ (glimpse) during June and July in Kashmir. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, big religious gatherings are not happening in any part of the world so at least a restricted yatra should be facilitated, Raina told reporters after a high-level meeting of senior party leaders at BJP headquarters here.

He said if a full-fledged yatra is not possible due to the Covid situation, the prayers should be organized at the cave shrine.

Asked if he favours a 15-days yatra, he said at least a limited number of Jammu and Kashmir residents should be allowed.

The strategy should be chalked out keeping in mind the prevailing difficult phase of the coronaviurs. We have talked to the Lt Governor (Manoj Sinha) on the issue in the past and will meet him again on the matter.

He said the party meeting discussed in detail the prevailing security, political and pandemic situation besides the recent killing of party leader Rakesh Pandita and the security concerns of sarpanches, panches, Block Development Council and District Development Council members.

Pandita, BJP’s Municipal Chairman of Tral, was killed by militants in his home town in Tral area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday.

All the discussed issues will be brought to the notice of the Lt Governor in coming days. Our effort is to end Pakistan-sponsored militancy and separatism. The repeated killing of innocents cannot be tolerated, he said.

Raina said he had raised these issues with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in the past and will continue to raise these issues with him as well as the Lt Governor.

Asked about reports that additional forces have been deployed in the valley, the BJP leader said deployment of forces is a national security matter and the discussion over it should be avoided.”

However, he said there is “operation all out” going on against militants with full vigour and deployment is made where they have hideouts to flush them out.

On BJP’s stand over Assembly elections, Raina said the party is fully prepared for the polls whenever the Election Commission takes a decision.

The delimitation commission has been constituted for J&K and due to the coronavirus outbreak it was not able to visit here. The commission is expected to visit J&K soon to define the territories of the assembly and parliamentary seats. After that the election commission will take a decision about the assembly elections and as a political party we will welcome the decision, he said.

Playing down reports on social media suggesting some big decision is in offing for J&K, he said we do not have any information… Our priority at the moment is to break the chain of the coronavirus, maintain security and reach out to the people who are in need of assistance.

Asked about a meeting between Home Minister and Lt Governor which was also attended by security, civil and police officers in Delhi, he said Lt Governor is visiting Delhi regularly and holding meetings there. There are issues of development, security and also reports of ceasefire violations so the talks between the two sides are nothing new.”

About the ongoing protests against opening of wine shops in residential localities in different parts of Jammu after the implementation of new excise policy, he said these shops will be closed .

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