In a new twist to the Kounsar Nag issue, the All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee (APMCC) on Monday accused both the Omar Abdullah government and separatists of joining hands to rake up the yatra controversy to polarise situation ahead of upcoming assembly polls on one hand and to stop Pandits from returning to Valley on the other hand.
“It was a calculated mischief with ulterior political motives and the entire conspiracy was hatched to incite local Muslim majority against Kashmiri Pandits who wanted to return to the Valley,” said King C Bharti, national spokesperson of the APMCC. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah succumbed to the pressure of separatists on yatra issue and refrained from issuing any statement for political motives, he pointed out.
“Both talk of welcoming Pandits on their return to the Valley. However, when they plan to do so, they issue them a list of dos and don’ts to be followed by them there,” he said while referring to the opposition to the Kounsar Nag yatra from Aharbal in South Kashmir.
When state government, separatists and so called intellectuals have no objection to the declaration of Kounsar Nag areas as a round the year tourist destination, then how can a group of 30-40 Pandits can pollute the environment by just visiting there for only two hours once a year? he asked.
“Their problem is not with environment, but with the Pandits who wish to return to their native land,” Bharti said.
Pointing out that Pandits had been going to Kounsar Nag from Aharbal until the eruption of militancy in 1989, Bharti quoting Nilmata Purana, Raj Tarangni and British author Aurel Stein said that this pilgrimage from Kashmir side had been going on since time immemorial. Even the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru along with his sister Vijay Laxmi Pandit had visited Kounsar Nag lake during the regime ofBakshi Ghulam Mohammad from Aharbal, he added.
Pointing out that the Kounsar Nag yatra was associated with religious sentiments of the migrant Kashmiri Pandit community, the APMCC chairperson Vinod Pandit said that the Omar Abdullah government, along with mainstream National Conference and separatists, created an unnecessary controversy of the yatra with an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.
“We had informed the Deputy Commissioner Kulgam one and a half month before the yatra that there will be around 40 people performing the pilgrimage and it was only thereafter that he instructed other departments to make necessary arrangements,” he pointed out, adding that he later withdrew permission under pressure from separatists.
However, the number of pilgrims was exaggerated from 40 to 4,000 by mischievous elements only with ulterior motives, he said, adding that at no point of time, they claimed that hundreds or thousands of yatris visiting Kounsar Nag lake at a height of 13,500 ft as it had been difficult even to ensure a gathering of 4,000 pilgrims even during Khir Bhawani mela, he added.
He also criticized National Conference legislator Dr Basheer Ahmed Veeri for linking their yatra to Kounsar Nag lake with the one beginning from Reasi district.
“We never undertook the yatra from Reasi and moreover, it was ridiculous to ask us being inhabitants of Valley to first travel to a place in Jammu for undertaking a pilgrimage to a spot in the Valley,” he added.