The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board crisis in Jammu and Kashmir is the result of the former Governor, S.K. Sinha’s move to allot 39.88 hectares of forest land to it. He is responsible for stirring up a hornets’ nest. Now that the allotment has been cancelled and Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad has decided to make land for the Amarnath pilgrims available to the tourist department and assured all logistical support, the matter should be allowed to rest.
The protests and the agitation by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bajrang Dal and the Shiv Sena on the issue are nothing but an attempt to add fuel to the fire. The BJP, which hopes to come to power in the next election, should pause to think whether such protests are warranted.
The allotment of a piece of land to the SASB for providing facilities to the Amarnath pilgrims was too small a matter for anyone to raise a hue and cry. It is the fissiparous elements that are hell-bent on making a mountain out of a molehill. This is a typical case of chauvinist elements making much ado about nothing.
Despite claims of adhering to the secular values of Kashmiriyat, the politics of the State remains starkly communal. The successful resistance to the land allotment to the SASB highlights this. In secular and democratic India, of which J&K is an inseparable part, pandering to the forces of minority separatism is unacceptable.
This refers to the letter that has pointed to the ecological problems posed by the increasing number of Amarnath yatris (Letters, July 3). The ecological concerns of Kashmiri politicians are superficial. They have never bothered about the ever-shrinking lakes and wetlands of Kashmir. They hardly protest when the forests are felled by the mafia. In the last three years, there has been a huge increase in the tourist inflow in Kashmir. Srinagar, Gulmarg and other traditional tourist spots cannot take anymore. But no one has ever complained about pollution. Is it because tourism brings money whereas pilgrims, who are on a shoestring budget, spend little?