Safety of Yatris of ‘Amarnath Yatra’

Afshain Afzal

THE All State Kashmir Pandit Conference (ASKPC) was held on 7 June 2017. The heavy presence of Indian intelligence personnel reflected that the Pundits have been pressurized to speak out. Being an important stakeholder in Jammu and Kashmir State dispute, any solution to the Kashmir issue would be meaningless without the involvement of the displaced Pandits. ASKPC called upon the government to safeguard the religious and cultural heritage of the minority Hindus in the Kashmir valley, who were forced to leave their homeland and still living a miserable life of refugees.
President ASKPC, Ravinder Raina and Secretary, Dr TK Bhat spoke on the occasion and demanded permanent solution of Jammu and Kashmir, however, they assured the Indian agencies that their community will never support any anti-India movement. Ironically, despite the sacrifices of Pandits all these years, delaying tactics are being adopted for the resolution of grievances of the Kashmiri Pandits. One of the Kashmiri Pandits, who also attended the conference disclosed, on the condition of anonymity, that the Indian government in New Delhi has prepared a plan to settle all the non-Muslims including the Panditis in Jammu and Ladakh so that these parts may be detached from the Jammu and Kashmir State. He claimed that the Pandits are even ready to allow the implementation of formula on Kashmir by the Central government but no formula would be acceptable unless the aspirations of the Kashmiris would be taken into consideration.
Meanwhile, the Indian government is encouraging Hindus from various parts of India, especially from West Bengal, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, , Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi to attend annual “Amarnath Yatra” commencing from 29 June 2017 in Jammu and Kashmir State. The control of various modes of the transport have assigned to the Indian Army while the helicopter fare have been reduced to an unbelievable level. The total helicopter fare per passenger for the Yatra is Rs 1,715 and Rs 2,950 for Neelgrath-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni routes, respectively. Security has been increased on road leading from Pahalgam and Baltal and no one is allowed in these areas.
It is interesting to note that after the heightened tension along the Line of Control (LoC) as a result of firing by Indian and Pakistani troops, the security situation has been aggravated. On June 05, 2017, the Directors General of Military Operations (DGMO) of both Pakistan and India met to discuss the current situation along the LoC but they did not discuss other than series of allegation. In fact, India is trying to justify its human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir State by linking it with Pakistan’s interference in Jammu and Kashmir State. New Delhi is determined to internationalize a tarnished image of Pakistan as state sponsoring terrorism. Fake encounters and allegations of infiltration from Pakistani side of LoC has increased over last few weeks. In a recent development, India’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Rajiv K Chander, while addressing the UN’s 35th session of the Human Rights Council said, “The central problem in Jammu and Kashmir is cross-border terrorism, and Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy.”
On the condition of anonymity, as per the claim of a DCIO posted at Jammu and Kashmir State, India intelligence agencies have chalked out a plan to internationalize Pakistan’s involvement in cross border terrorism by carrying out terrorist attacks on Yatris, attending annual “Amarnath Yatra”. It has been claimed that media channels would try to give live coverage of “Amarnath Yatra” during which terrorists would attack and be neutralized by Indian military forces. As per the information of DCIO the foreign reporters would also be allowed to give coverage and deaths on account of attack would include that of journalists too. Although, the authenticity of the reports could not be confirmed but these cannot be ignored. One wonders in this game of blood and fire over the legitimacy of disputed Jammu and Kashmir State, how long we should allow killings of innocent men, women and children, especially the Kashmiris. The world community should prevent India from carrying out fake encounters and self-engineered terrorist attacks just to prove Pakistan as aggressor.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.

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