A probe panel report has found 'no tampering' of the naturally-formed ice Shiv Lingam at the holy Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Gupta Commission of Inquiry, set up to probe allegations that the ice stalagmite formed inside the cave this year had been tampered with, stated in its 90-page report: "We see no hand of any official of the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) in formation of the snow Shiv Lingam or tampering of the natural Ice Shiv Lingam, which in fact had not been tampered during the yatra period announced by SASB."
The report by Justice KK Gupta was presented to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha in Jammu on Saturday.
"No tampering of any nature with the Holy Shiv Lingam took place," the commission said. It concluded that during the period when SASB functionaries started their activities relating to this year's Amarnath yatra (June 11-Aug 9), they took quick action in finding out the reasons why the holy Shiv Lingam had not formed till May 16. The SASB team on May 19 found water trickling from the roof of the cave that eventually resulted in formation of the Shiv Lingam in the first week of June, it said.
The commission said that some religious scholars had stated that the yearly formation of the stalagmite was a natural phenomenon and "nobody should be allowed to comment or raise controversy on such religious matters that shake the faith of devotees", and since this was a 'divine control phenomena' 'human intervention should not be tolerated'.
"In this respect we would only like to remark that India is a democratic country and everybody has the right as permitted by our Constitution to raise any type of controversy but at the same time we put a note of caution here that divine and religious matters are not within the scope of mischievous and misguided elements, whosoever they may be. It is also on record with us that such controversies have been raised simply to sabotage the yatra and malign the image of SASB," the report elaborates.
Madan Mantoo, SASB official, said the governor in his capacity as chairman of SASB had constituted the one-man commission on June 29 in consultation with Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to look into complaints of tampering with the Shiva Lingam.
The report was initially to be submitted in a month's time, but was extended by another month at the request of the commission.
On allegations that the stalagmite had been made of dry snow this year, the commission, referring to the opinion of experts, said: "The reports in various sections of media that dry ice was brought and used for the purpose of forming of artificial Lingam seem to be a misconcept(ion) because of ignorance of the term 'dry ice'. Some mischievous elements had even gone to the extent of floating rumours that lakhs and lakhs of rupees were spent for procuring dry ice for formation of artificial Lingam when such type of ice was available round the nearby glaciers. These are nothing but absurd remarks."
According to Mantoo, the commission has made 11 recommendations for improving the yatra, including waiving of fee for langar or free food and consulting leading Hindu religious heads for a permanent solution to keep the cave area cool for prolonging the life of the ice lingam.
The commission also suggested insuring the mares, ponies, pall bearers and labourers working regularly on the yatra route and being registered with the labour department at Pahalgham and Baltal, as well as re-locating the helipad to make the cave area pollution free.
Mahant Deependra Giri, custodian of Shiva's Holy Mace, did not present himself before the commission despite repeated requests.