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Shrine gets clean chit

india Updated: Aug 26, 2006 02:46 IST
Arun Joshi

A probe panel has cleared the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) of tampering with the Shivlingam at the cave shrine. Instead, the report, to be submitted by Justice (retd) KK Gupta to the SASB on Saturday, blames priests of Mattan for shaping an artificial lingam much ahead of the pilgrimage.

Pilgrims had reported that the lingam at Amarnath seemed man-made this year and also smaller in size than usual. Facing allegations that the SASB tampered with the lingam, its chairman Governor Lt Gen (retd) SK Sinha on June 29 ordered a probe of a “general nature” — neither judicial nor a proper commission of inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act.

The probe report also gives a clean chit to the SASB in procuring dry ice to preserve the Shivlingam to prolong its life. The report says the SASB spent Rs 85,000 on this.

Further the report concludes the lingam had not formed and speaks of a “miracle” and “divine intervention”. These were terms the SASB’s chief executive officer had used when it was discovered that droplets were falling on the cave floor from May 19.

The report further quotes experts of the Snow and Avalanche Study who found the glacier feeding the cave had receded 100 metres.

The report says the team of the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment had reported water trickling at the rate of two to three drops per minute on May 19. By May-end there were reports of heavy snowfall in the area and that a Shivlingam began to form. These quotes from Justice Gupta’s report are excerpts of a June 18 press note of the SASB.

Further, Justice Gupta has devoted a substantial portion of his report in praising the SASB for the facilities it had provided for the pilgrimage.

The only area where the report seems to deviate from the SASB line is where the latter says the Governor visited the shrine on May 16, two days after the yatra schedule was announced. The probe finds the Governor could not visit that day.