Kashmir Tense But Amarnath Yatra Moves Smoothly2 July 2010
Pahalgam: The third day of the Amarnath Yatra has so been moving smoothly. Despite earlier concerns of local unrest against security forces, the pilgrims say they're feeling safe. Even as Kashmir Valley continues to remain on the edge, the first batch of pilgrims started on the Amarnath trek on Thursday. Security officials and shrine board says foolproof security mechanism is in place and that pilgrims have no need to fear. Anantnag, Mattan, Pulwama, Kakpora, Koimoh, Sopore and Baramulla remain under curfew. Severe restrictions have been imposed and security has been tightened at all checkpoints. Separatists are stepping up their agitation and the Hurriyat Conference has called for an Eidgah Chalo march in Srinagar.The Valley has witnessed large scale protests for the last couple of weeks following the deaths of at least six civilians, allegedly killed in firing by security forces. But with a lull in clashes between the protestors and security forces, the pilgrims crossed into Anantnag on Wednesday midnight. Religious leaders and the Hurriyat Conference have appealed to local residents to help the pilgrims. There were some cheers as the devotees began their tough trek. But across the Kashmir Valley, curfew continued in Sopore, Anantnag and Baramulla. Protests in Srinagar and Anantnag were contained before they could snowball and authorities have assured the Yatra will not be disrupted. 'The security arrangements are very effective; none of the pilgrims should have a cause of any concern or worry. The delay on Wednesday was only because we wanted to be very sure about the security arrangements. But, I think from today onwards, the movement will be very smooth,' Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra told CNN-IBN. Over 15,000 pilgrims are expected to make the trek to the Amarnath shrine over the next two months. Everyone is hoping that the centuries old spirit of communal harmony will help the Yatra go on smoothly, despite the anger on the streets.