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Amarnath switch official

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 01:34 IST
ARUN Joshi
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THE SHRI Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) finally says the Shivlingam had not formed in the cave this year. It has, however, expressed ignorance as to how the present snow lingam came up.

Arun Kumar, CEO of SASB, said on Monday the lingam had not naturally formed. The board, however, cleaned up the formation at the spot since it was full of dirt. "We also put up a grill so that no one would tamper with it again." He said it would be difficult to ascertain who was behind it.

The SASB has been contradicting itself. Earlier, it said a small lingam had naturally formed in the cave.

He said the board had received complaints that some people piled snow on the top of the Shivling.

“We are not defending it, but such things have happened in the past,” chief executive of the Shree Amarnath Shrine Board Arun Kumar said. He told a television channel that there were some dirt marks on the lingam. “But we have cleared all that. We raised the grid to almost five feet and put a lock. Our people are on guard round-the-clock.”

However, he was quick to add, “Our belief is that the Shivlingam — however small — has been formed naturally.” Even the Governor ruled out an artificial lingam.

Expressing shock over reports of “tampering”, Mahant Deependra Giri, Custodian of the Holy Mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva, demanded a judicial probe by a Supreme Court judge to “find out the truth”. He charged the Shrine Board with “playing with the sentiments” of the Hindu community.

Meanwhile, pilgrim Sohan Singh, who has been visiting Amarnath for the past 31 years — has added a new twist to the lingam tale. He says the natural lingam formed at a place, nearly five feet from the sanctum sanctorum. Singh, who visited the shrine on May 6, has photographs of the lingam to prove his claim.

“The shivalingam formed at a place where the family of a sadhu, Bhole Baba, lived.” According to him, it was not far from the place of the original lingam.

Lamenting the creation of a “manmade shivalingam” he said, “There was no need to fake it. It has hurt the sentiments of the devotees”. 

Sohan Singh’s claims, if proven true, could stir up a hornet’s nest as devotees and political parties could question the rationale behind “propping up an artificial lingam” when the original one had formed.