As Amarnath Yatra struggles to continue amidst suspensions and resumptions because of violent Kashmir ‘protests’, yatris who have returned to their homes are narrating their horrible experiences. Hindi / local media has covered their experiences in detail; many of the yatris suffered serious threats and great inconvenience just because the local Muslim population was angry about the dead terrorist Burhan Wani and decided to take out their anger on travelling yatris.
Quoting and translating what a yatri named Vinod told Dainik Bhaskar, ” We were returning from Amarnath when young boys started pelting stones on our vehicle and broke all the window panes. They asked the people to get down from the bus. Then they blamed that we (the yatris) had killed their leader and that blood will be avenged by blood. We felt that our end may be near. They released us one by one after asking us to say ‘ Pakistan zindabad, Bharat murdabad’. We had to do anti national sloganeering to save our lives. I felt as if I am stuck in some other country”.
He also mentioned that stones were pelted on all pilgrimage vehicles and many pilgrims were hurt. Local police was of no help.
As per Dainik Bhaskar, another yatri Rakesh Kumar, who had gone for Amarnath Yatra with family, mentioned that they also were caught by protestors. Window panes of their vehicle were broken by pelting stones. People were throwing stones from even the roofs of houses. He had to send back his family by flight.
Another report from Dainik Jagran also speaks about the same sufferings of Amarnath yatris. Many were even beaten before being allowed to go. Another group of yatris from Indore said that there was a lot of agitation happening on the route to Srinagar from Jammu post the killing of Burhan Wani. Young boys between 15 and 25 years of age were trying to stop pilgrim vehicles by burning tyres on the roads and pelting stones on the windows.
Because the yatra was suspended twice and curfew was imposed in many areas, people suffered immensely because of lack of food and water. There was no question of venturing out and nothing could be done except for waiting for food supplies.
Another story was narrated to Dainik Bhaskar by Kulbir Sharma and Lalit Saini, who have been running bhandaras (community kitchens) during Amarnath Yatra from last 23 years. In their own words :
“The next day after Burhan Wani was killed, about 10 to 15 young men came to the bhandara in a Tata 407 at around 10.30 in the morning. They started collecting stones and breaking tree branches. Then they attacked the bhandara. People started shouting and so those men retreated for a few minutes. ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police) was informed by the bhandara head Suresh Kumar. ITBP hired few shots in the air.
The violent young men, who were now around 40 to 45 in number, again attacked the bhandara. They started pelting stones and damaged all the vehicles parked at the bhandara location. They even started pelting stones at the organizers. ITBP drove them away from the location. We were extremely scared and couldn’t decide what to do.
But after 30 minutes, about 60 to 65 men started coming towards us. Some climbed up the mountain, a man fell off in the river and was carried away with the flow of water. After this, we saw hordes of violent young men coming towards the bhandara with stones and big wooden sticks, they must be at least 2000 in number.
The DSP ordered the head to vacate the bhandara, else they said they will not be responsible for the consequences. As we were trying to collect all belongings, a part of the mob burnt 4 pandals, threw away many belongings and looted a lot of stuff. There were 200 people in the bhandara camp, slowly and without noise, the camp was vacated in the night. People were moved to Pahalgam.”
Many such stories are coming to light which are covered by regional media only. It is extremely sad that so many State and Central resources are being spent just on trying to ensure safety of a pilgrimage, just because local people of that state are behaving irresponsibly and violently in the name of religion. The tax payers’ money is being wasted on law and order issues which are created by an anarchist and extremist approach. Many devotees are braving the threats and taking the risk to visit Amarnath, trusting their faith and the efforts of our courageous Army. Here is a short video which shows the ferocity and organized manner in which security forces are being attacked –
— Bobby Deol (@thebobbydeoll) July 14, 2016
While the mainstream media is full of condemnation of orders allowing security forces to use metal pellet guns, what started this mess was the illegitimate and extremely violent protesting on killing of a wanted terrorist. The latest tactic being adopted by terrorists is to hurl hand grenades at security forces while hiding behind stone pelters.
Were not hurting protesters, they shouldn’t have thrown hand grenade at us: Injured security official in Srinagar pic.twitter.com/pZW8lpgDfO
— ANI (@ANI_news) July 14, 2016
Ironically, while so called secularist media and politicians want army to stop stringent measures to control protesters, they don’t wish to stop such anarchist protests instigated by religious extremism.
Attacking a peaceful pilgrimage, the Amarnath Yatra, to retaliate for controlling terrorism, is utterly shameful in a democracy.