The row over Jammu and Kashmir State government’s decision to bar Kashmiri Pandits from undertaking the >Kausar Nag yatra has escalated with the BJP and the VHP terming it as “unconstitutional” and a “violation of rights” and Pandits in the United States, writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.
Members of the Kashmiri Overseas Association (KOA) in its letter to Prime Minister Modi have expressed concern that the community’s rights to carry out their religious practices are being denied by the J&K government.
The BJP and the VHP have slammed the Jammu and Kashmir government for failing to allow Kashmiri Pandits to undertake the annual pilgrimage to Kasuar Nag and have sought the Centre’s immediate intervention.
MP from Gorakhpur, Yogi Adityanath told The Hindu that the BJP will raise the issue in Parliament and outside. He said the State government in Jammu and Kashmir seems least interested in protecting the rights of the minorities [Hindus] and has made little effort to ensure they can undertake the Yatra. “We have promised that the displaced Pandits will be rehabilitated and we will fulfil that. The National Conference government, >bowing to the separatists cannot stop the Pandits from going there, we will raise this issue,” he said.
The VHP accused the state government of “surrendering to the separatist” and urged the Centre to step in and make amends. “No government has the right to stop anyone from practising their religion or undertaking pilgrimages. Our Constitution guarantees the right to practise our religion, what the Jammu and Kashmir government has done is unconstitutional, it is a direct attack on our religion and this arbitrary banning will not be tolerated in a secular India,” said Vinod Bansal, media chief of the VHP in Delhi.
He said rather than clamping down on the separatists, the state government has given in to their unreasonable demands. “This pilgrimage not only brings more money to the exchequer, but promotes integrity, it connects Kashmir emotionally with the rest of India and that is exactly what the separatist don’t want. As for environmental concerns, the government should start worrying about the slaughter of animals that is polluting the rivers,” Mr. Bansal said.
Kashmir Pandits also staged a protest against the ban at Jantar Mantar on Friday.