Baltal: Pony, Tent Owners Decide To Wind Up

19 July 2014
Kashmir Observer

Ganderbal: A day after violent clashes at Baltal Base Camp between locals and Bhandara walas, hundreds of pony, tent and Dhandi owners have started fleeing from the camp and are unwilling to manage their business there. According to CNS news agency majority of the tent and ponny owners have decided to close down their business at Baltal after they suffered heavy losses during Friday clashes. Report added that in a bid to persuade tent and pony owners to continue their business, an important meeting was held at Baltal that was presided by Forest Minister Mian Altaf. Reports said that the representatives of the pony, tent and Dhandi owners and traders refused to carry on their business. Speaking on behalf of the tent owners, Majid Lone told reporters that CRPF men thrashed hundreds of his group and set their tents and canopies on fire. 'Almost the entire camp was reduced to ashes. It took the fire brigade four hours to bring the blaze under control,' Lone said. 'We don't want to continue our business here. During the meeting the government had assured that it will compensate the losses that we incurred but we are not feeling safe here,' he said. Reports said that there are some pony and tent owners who want to continue their business at Baltal but their colleagues who have decided to close down their business have reportedly threatened them of dire consequences in case they don't wind up their business with two days. Reports said that many Yatri's Saturday failed to arrange mules and ponies for themselves and yatri's were seen moving towards the Cave on foot. Meanwhile, sources told CNS that government is mulling to entrust the job of security for Yatra to Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police and soon the CRPF may be called back from the Base Camp. Sources said that Additional Director General Jammu and Kashmir Armed Police S.M.Sahai visited Baltal and participated in an important meeting that was attended by the officials of SASB, CRPF and district administration officials. CRPF blames locals Central Reserve Police Force Saturday said that it was a 'baseless rumour' that created havoc at Baltal Base Camp for Amarnth Yatri's on Friday. The Commanding Officer of CRPF 54 Battalion C.S.C.Rawat deputed at Baltal to ensure safe and secure yatra told CNS that it were CRPF personnel who pacified the violent yatris otherwise the situation could have turned more volatile. 'Yatri's were furious when locals burnt down community kitchens but our timely intervention forced yatri's and Bhandarawalas to go on back foot,' he said adding that only 20 odd local policemen were there to control the situation. He said that yatri's suffered heavy losses than the local tent owners. 'At least 9 community kitchens were set on fire by the locals while each kitchen contains food items worth lakhs of rupees. 'Who told you that locals suffered huge losses, it were non-local Bhandarawalas who lost their life time savings,' Rawat said. 'Our two men who were in plain clothes had been arrested by police but they released them soon after knowing about their identity. These allegations are baseless that CRPF joined hands with Yatri's and set the tents on fire. It is not our job to create chaos and confusion,' he told CNS adding that last time also these locals disrupted the peace and order at Baltal. Rawat further revealed that the situation turned more volatile when the senior police and administrative officials reached Baltal. 'The presence of senior police and administrative officials provoked both locals and Yatri's who resorted to heavy stone-pelting,' he said adding that CRPF performed its duty and protected the lives of Yatri's.