Clashes broke out today near Baltal, the base camp of Amarnath Yatra, after a dispute between pony owners and those running community kitchens and alleged high-handedness by CRPF personnel, leaving at least 25 people injured following which the yatra has been suspended.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah deputed senior officials in the area, over 100 kilometres southeast of Srinagar, and the situation is under control, officials said. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to the Chief Minister over phone about the violence and asked him to to take all necessary steps.
The incident took place at Dumail near Baltal area which comes under Sonamarg, a picturesque tourist spot. A small altercation broke out between ‘langarwallahs’, who run community kitchens for the pilgrims, and local pony owners, who take the yatris through rough terrain to the holy cave shrine.
However, the quarrel soon took a violent turn as the local unit of CRPF tried to intervene. While the police spokesman maintained that only 12 people were wounded, sources said as many as 25 people were injured which included a few with burn injuries.
Allegations were levelled that CRPF personnel had shown high-handedness and had set the tents on fire, but they were denied by the force.
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There was a blast due to explosion of cooking gas cylinder which led to fire in other tents in the camp. “The situation has been brought under control and senior police and civil administration officials are on the spot to resolve the issue,” the spokesman said.While officially police only said that they had registered a case, sources said that as many as three CRPF personnel were detained by the local police.
Reacting to the developments, CRPF claimed that 10 community kitchen were set on fire by protesters resulting in injury to its 12 jawans.
Meanwhile, police said that yatra has been suspended in view of the violence and a convoy en-route to the cave shrine was stopped as a precautionary measure.
The yatra has been stopped at Nowgam-Tawahir tunnel area in Banihal belt as a precaution in view of the clashes between two groups of people at Baltal, police said in Jammu.
The plilgrims were not allowed to move into Kashmir via Jawahar tunnel from Banihal belt of Ramban district. Amid tight security, the 22nd batch of 1,765 pilgrims, including 1244 men, 409 women and 20 children, left from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu in a cavalcade of 62 vehicles this morning With today’s batch, 41,023 pilgrims have far left from the Jammu base camp for the Amarnath shrine.