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HindustanTimes Fri,26 Dec 2014

Amarnath Yatra resumes from Baltal route after Friday's trouble

Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times   Srinagar, July 19, 2014
First Published: 18:45 IST(19/7/2014) | Last Updated: 22:36 IST(19/7/2014)

Pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine that was halted from the shorter Baltal route on Friday has been started. The Yatra was halted from Baltal route following a violent clash between two groups of service providers. "The Yatra has started from Baltal route. Although the number was initially less as people came to the route late, the number started increasing as it progresssed," said CEO Amarnath Shrine Board Rakesh Kumar Gupta .

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The trouble started on Friday when a non-local working at a langar (stall offering free meals) allegedly charged at a local, owner of tents and ponies, and stabbed him following an altercation over some issue at Baltal base camp, 100 km away from Srinagar.

While the police claimed that the situation was bought under control, clashes continued intermittently for many hours after rumours that the injured pony wala had died in the hospital. The incident led to stone pelting between local and non-local service providers along the route. The police used force to disperse the mob.
 
“Friday morning saw some minor squabble between some people at the Baltal yatra camp. However trouble started after rumour that a local pony wala injured in the attack has died," said Gupta. He said the situation was bought under control and "no yatri was hurt."
 
The injured victim, identified as Naib Khan of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, was shifted to Srinagar’s Sher-i-Kashmir Medical Sciences Hospital for treatment. Several make-shift structures, housing shops, kitchen and accommodation, were set afire by protesters in the Friday clashes.
 
Geelani demands action against the langar wala accused in the stabbing incident. Accussing CRPF of setting 400 tents of local traders afire, Geelani questioned "why the accused who stabbed the  local ponywala was being sheilded".

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