Delay In Amarnath Yatra Set To Spark Another Row

10 June 2009
Daily News & Analysis

Srinagar: A fresh row is brewing in Kashmir over the delay in this year's Amarnath yatra. The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) blames inclement weather for the delay, but the Shri Amarnath Sangharsh Samiti (SASS) and the VHP-backed Amarnath Yatra Niyas (AYN), feel the Omar government is dithering under pressure from separatists. AYN wants the yatra to begin on June 15 come what may. Even BJP, which rode high on last year's Amarnath crisis, says the government was deliberately delaying the yatra. The yatra was to take off on June 7, but was rescheduled to June 15 due to the weather. The board says incessant rains and snowfall have hampered track clearance. Some sectors continue to be under 5-6 ft snow. 'Governor NN Vohra, who is the SASB chairman, is scheduled to visit the shrine and the two base camps and carry out an aerial reconnaissance on June 11 to assess the timeline for restoration and setting up of required facilities,' a board spokesman said. 'We support the SASB, but are sceptical of the government, which is succumbing to pressure from communal forces,' state BJP president Ashok Khajuria said. 'SASB says there is a lot of snow on the tracks, but there is no independent confirmation. If the yatra is postponed once more, it will be construed that the government is giving in to pressure from Hurriyat hawks. They had said that the yatra period should be curtailed to 15 days,' Brig (retd) Suchet Singh, officiating convener of the Samiti, said. AYN wants the yatra to begin on June 15 come what may. 'If the yatra is postponed, we will appeal to the pilgrims to reach Jammu and begin the pilgrimage on their own,'AYN chief Rama Kant Dubey said.