A day after both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad criticized Omar Abdullah led coalition government for withdrawing the permission earlier given for Kousar Nag yatra in South Kashmir, Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha and former union minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad, on Saturday alleged attempts by parties to polarise the situation ahead of coming assembly polls in Jammu Kashmir.
“Whenever there are elections in the state, both sides start making attempts to polarise situation,’’ said Azad in an apparent reference to both separatists in the Valley and mainstream BJP and its frontal organizations in Jammu region. They did not by raking up the Amarnath land row in 2008 ahead of the assembly elections in the state, he added.
The former union minister along with other senior leaders including former union minister Ambika Soni and state party president Prof Saifuddin Soz was in Udhampur to attend a day long district Congress convention at Udhampur. Pointing out that the convention marked the launching of Congress campaign to gear up party workers for the coming assembly elections, he said that similar district level conventions will be held in other parts of the state as well.
The pilgrimage to Kousar Nag, which is situated at a height of 12,500 ft above sea level on the mountains between Reasi and Anantnag districts, used to be undertaken from both sides until 1990. However, while people from Reasi side did not face any problems, Kashmiri Pandits could not undertake the pilgrimage from South Kashmir side after the eruption of militancy since 1990. It was the first time since then that they had decided to restart their pilgrimage from Aharbal by carrying a group of nearly 30 people from the displaced community.
While Azad saw attempts to polarise situation in the Kousar Nag yatra issue, another controversy erupted over Mangla Mata yatra in Nowshera, with VHP accusing the administration of asking them to follow the traditional route to Budda Amarnath shrine in Poonch. The administration had earlier in a meeting with VHP agreed to include Mangla Mata shrine also in the route of pilgrims going to Budda Amarnath in Poonch, the VHP president Leela Karn said.
When contacted Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Shantmanu, he said that Budda Amarnath pilgrims earlier used to drive straight to Poonch. However, this year, VHP leaders wanted Mangla Mata shrine also to be made part of the Budda Amarnath pilgrimage. “While the security agencies had objected to it citing security reasons in view of its being closer to the Line of Control and the time consumed to reach there, I had allowed them to first go there on way to Budda Amarnath subject to their reaching Poonch before sun set,’’ he said.
“However, as the yatra reached Poonch at 10.30 pm on its very first day on Friday, I today wrote them a letter telling them that the yatra in view vof security reasons will not be allowed to proceed from Rajouri after 3 pm. Today, they went to Mangla Mata, but managed to cross Rajouri by 3 PM,’’ he said, adding that they have no objection to yatris following the agreed route provided they cross Rajouri by afternoon so as to reach Poonch on time.