Amarnath Row: Kashmiri Pandits Seek PM's Intervention

25 June 2008

New Delhi: With Kashmir witnessing protests over transfer of forest land to Amarnath Shrine Board, Kashmiri Pandits on Wednesday appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene, saying his government and party could not remain a 'mute spectator' to the 'religious cleansing'. Two Kashmiri Pandit organisations - Panun Kashmir and Roots in Kashmir - said the latest developments in the valley clearly highlighted the 'communal fangs' prevalent there and argued for creation of a separate homeland for the community in the state. 'We are addressing this letter to you with great concern at the fast deteriorating socio-political milieu of the state,' Panun Kashmir Chairman Agnishekhar said in his letter to the prime minister. 'Of particular concern is the rapidly communal stance and statements of the frontline political parties, not to talk of the separatists and the militant groups,' he said. Agnishekhar said 'brandishing of stark communalism by parties like the PDP, the National Conference, the CPI(M), the separatists and the militants has caused serious alarm to Kashmiri Hindus in particular and crores of Hindus in general.' He wrote the letter in the wake of series of street protests and statements by political parties against the transfer of some hectares of land to Amarnath Shrine Board for construction of some temporary structures to facilitate the annual pilgrimage to the holy cave. 'The protagonists of this vicious tirage dub the holy Amarnath yatra as a cultural invasion of Kashmir affecting its ecology, cultural identity and demography. To this effect, these people have been issuing highly inflammatory communal statements causing hurt and anguish to a billion Hindus and Kashmiri Hindus in particular,' Agnishekhar said. The Panun Kashmir chief said the developments exposed the 'much-touted Kashmiriyat' which is 'nothing but a smokescreen to camouflage the communal fangs.' He particularly accused former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Beig, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti and CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami for 'openly fanning communalism' in the valley. 'Congress is the ruling party in the state and it cannot remain a mute spectator to the happenings around. The gains of our valiant security forces are being frittered away at the cost of political expediency,' Agnishekhar said. 'In this hour of crisis, your personal intervention alone would save the day,' he said addressing the Prime Minister. Roots in Kashmir also wrote a similar letter to Singh, saying some political parties, including ruling Congress, were hell-bent on creating hurdles in the Amarnath yatra.