Kausarnag Row: Nine Hurt In Clash

31 July 2014
Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: At least nine people were injured during protests between locals and government forces as civil society groups seeking a ban on Kausarnag pilgrimage tried to take out a march in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district on Thursday. The clashes took place on a day the government announced that it would not allow a Kashmir Pandit group to take the pilgrimage through the south Kashmir route. Tension is brewing in Aharbal area of South Kashmir as the residents today took to the streets in protest against reported plans to build a temple for starting an yatra to the ecologically-fragile area. Hundreds of residents of Aharbal and its surrounding areas staged a protest and marched towards Kounsarnag area, police said. A local newspaper had last week reported that the Reasi District Administration was planning to facilitate an annual yatra to Kounsarnag where a pristine lake is situated. The lake and the surrounding glaciers are feeding points for several fresh water bodies in the area. Eyewitnesses said on the call of Save Kausarnag Front, hundreds of locals started marching towards the pilgrimage destination from Aharbal in the district. They said when protesters reached Gurwatan, the police and paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) intercepted the marchers and resorted to baton charge. 'The protesters retaliated with pelting stones on forces who lobbed teargas shells to disperse the agitating people. In the ensuing clashes, at least 9 people sustained injuries,' witnesses said. Medical sources said all the injured were out of danger. Medical officials at Public Health Centre in Manzgam said they received six injured persons who were treated upon. Giving in to the pressure mounted by civil society groups, the Omar Abdullah government has withdrawn permission to the All Pandit Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) for a fresh pilgrimage to the Pir Panjal glacial lake Kousarnag from southern Kashmir. With a shutdown in Kulgam and Shupian district on Wednesday, authorities conveyed to the APMCC that the pilgrimage would be permitted only through Chasana in Jammu's Reasi district. A police official said they restored order and situation was brought to normal at Aharbal after a stone pelting incident. 'A group of people blocked the road at Aharbal in today. Among the group some miscreants pelted stones on a police. We used mild baton charge and chased them away. Three persons received minor injuries during the clashes,' he said.