SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday withdrew permission for the Kousar Nag Yatra to Kashmiri pandits.
This comes after prominent separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani had called for a bandh on Saturday and protests after Friday prayers against it.
Kausar Nag Lake is over 12,000 feet above sea level in Shopian district. A Kasmiri pandit group, the All Parties Migrants’ Coordination Committee (APMCC) was to start the pilgrimage next Tuesday and at least 4,000 people were going to participate.
Sources said the Kashmiri Hindus intend to reach Kausar Nag on Wednesday and hold a six-day puja. The glacial lake that is said to be among the Kashmir valley’s purest. The state had declared the lake a place of religious significance and made extensive preparations for the pilgrims.
Geelani said the Yatra would “destroy the fragile environment and water resources of Kashmir”. He had even said pilgrimage to Kausar Nag was part of an RSS agenda to “eliminate the Muslim identity of the region”.
“India is following in Kashmir the policy Israel implemented vis-a-vis Palestine. If this process is not stopped, we will have to face the same humiliation and bloodshed the Palestinian people are facing,” he said.
Reacting to the order, the APMCC condemned the state government for buckling under the “pressure of some elements hell-bent upon foiling the return of Kashmiri pandits”.
In a statement, the APMCC objected to certain groups created a ‘misconception’ around Kousar Nag Yatra known as Kramsaras Tirtha (Vishnu Paad) Yatra among Kashmiri pandits. “Communal colour is being given to it to create fear psychosis among Kashmiri pandits that they won’t be allowed to worship according to their will,” the statement said.
“The Kulgam district administration did not allow them to proceed further,” said APMCC chairman Vinod Pandit. He criticized the Omar Abdullah government for buckling under the pressure of communal elements without caring to clear the misconception among the local people with an eye on the forthcoming elections. “Kashmiri pandits have been going there since Nilmata times as recorded in Raj Tarangni and books of Aurel Stein,” he said.