Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Amarnath yatris completing their 45-day pilgrimage is a matter of prestige for Kashmir

For the Kashmiri on the street, the government asking the Amarnath yatris to return is ominous.

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The Jammu and Kashmir administration Friday issued an advisory asking Amarnath yatris to cut short their stay in the Valley and return immediately in the wake of “specific terror threats”.

The state is already on the edge, given the increased troop deployment and the speculation surrounding a possible move to abrogate Article 35A.

For the Kashmiri on the street, the government asking the Amarnath yatris to return is ominous.

The yatra

The Amarnath Yatra is a nearly 45-day physically gruelling journey that people across various age groups undertake every year to reach the shrine, which is situated at an altitude of 3,888 metres. It begins 1 July, the day of Masik Shivratri, and concludes 15 August, the day of Shravan Purnima. On an average, 2.5-3 lakh devotees take part in the yatra annually.

Conducting the Amarnath Yatra peacefully is a major exercise for the security forces. In 2017, then minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir had informed Lok Sabha that 53 Amarnath yatris were killed in 36 terror attacks in the last 27 years.

Over the years, CCTV cameras, drones and bulletproof convoys have become a part of the Amarnath Yatra.


Also read: Militants in Kashmir using new IED modules to target Amarnath pilgrims & security forces


The significance 

In the last few decades, the Amaranth Yatra has acquired immense significance for the government of the day in Delhi, the political parties in Kashmir, the forces entrusted with the security of the yatris, and the people of Kashmir.

Since 1989, when the insurgency started in Kashmir, the annual pilgrimage has been seen as not just a part of the Hindu belief system, but a mechanism to build a stronger bond between Kashmir and rest of India. Over the years, Valley politicians have often boasted about their secular credentials by welcoming the yatris.

Most separatist outfits and their leaders have never shown resistance towards the yatra, even in the harshest of times.

A prestige issue

In conflict-ridden Kashmir, a successful completion of the Amarnath Yatra is a matter of prestige.

It helps break the stereotypes surrounding Kashmir and its people, and also contributes to the state’s economy. The hospitality and tourism sectors are the biggest beneficiaries.

From dhabas and hotels to taxi drivers and locals who provide ponies to pilgrims for the arduous trek, the 45-day Amarnath Yatra is business season.

In the last few years, locals, however, claim that the Amarnath Yatra has been deeply politicised. The yatra has now become a means to show that Kashmir is a safe place for Hindus visiting the Valley.

But with the Amarnath yatris now being told to come back, Kashmiris are not sure what’s next.


Also read: Everything you wanted to know about Amarnath yatra and didn’t know who to ask


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Since when muslims started appreciating Amarnath Yatras? Oh… some of them are loosing business trading on ponies and food chains. Certainly not at the cost of human life and also not at the cost of giving free publicity if some calamity happens of pilgrims getting targeted by militants. It is good to remain safe than feeding media and their TRP.

  2. Each Indian Prime Minister has had some fine qualities that made him or her worthy of that great honour. Vajpayeeji had the largest, most catholic heart. That is the first attribute that will be required to bring peace to Kashmir.

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