A new yatra to the Kousar Nag Lake in south Kashmir has snowballed into a major controversy, forcing the J&K government to withdraw the permission to embark on it. The yatra, however, will continue from Reasi in Jammu.
The permission was withdrawn on Wednesday evening following protests in the Valley. “We have not allowed them to hold the yatra from Kulgam,” Deputy Commissioner Kulgam, Nisar Wani, told The Indian Express.
The Separatists, political leaders and civil society groups have vowed to oppose the yatra to Kousar Nag calling it an “ecological disaster” and a “militarised Hindutva project”. Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani has called for a shutdown on Saturday against the yatra. “This is RSS agenda,” said Geelani.
The reaction came after a Jammu-based organisation —All-Migrant Pandit Coordination Committee (APMCC) — announced that a yatra to Kousar Nag will begin from July 30. Kousar Nag, glacial lake located 3,700 m above sea level in the upper reaches of Aharbal tourist resort, is source of Vishaw — a major stream in south Kashmir’s Shopian and Kulgam districts that feeds Jhelum.
Kousar Nag is a two-day return trek from Aharbal — the largest waterfall and a famous tourist resort in Kulgam. The yatra to the lake commenced three years ago from Reasi in Jammu. However, this is the first time the yatra was to begin from the Valley.
Meanwhile, APMCC said the government has buckled under pressure of “some communal elements”. “Who is D C Kulgam to say that the traditional route is from Reasi and not Kashmir,” said King Bharati, APMCC spokesperson. Mainstream political parties have also assailed the government. “It is matter of great misfortune that the state government has set on self-destructive communal tones,” Independent legislator Engineer Rashid said.