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Hindu groups refuse to buy NGT clarification on Amarnath cave shrine

The National Green Tribunal clarified that it did not declare the Amarnath cave shrine as a “silent zone.”

india Updated: Dec 14, 2017 20:33 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, Jammu
NGT,Amarnath shrine,Shiv Sena
The file picture shows Hindu pilgrims on a glacial campsite on the final stretch of their journey to the Amarnath cave shrine. (AFP File Photo )

The National Green Tribunal’s clarification on Thursday that it did not declare the Amarnath cave shrine as a “silent zone” failed to pacify Kashmiri Pandits and Shiv Sena, who accused the environment watchdog of interfering in their religious affairs.

The NGT on Wednesday reportedly barred the chiming of bells or chanting of mantras in the vicinity of the famed cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas to preserve its eco sensitivity, triggering protests.

Following criticism, the green tribunal said silence should only be maintained in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga, a natural formation in the cave.

The All Parties’ Migrant Coordination Committee (APMCC), a frontal organisation of internally displaced Kashmiri Pandits, termed the order a “Talibani diktat.”

The cave shrine is one of the major holy shrines of the Hindus and draws thousands of pilgrims when it is opened to the visitors for a short period of time in summer.

APMCC chairman Vinod Pandit said that it has become a norm in India to “poke nose into the religious affairs of Hindus” by such institutions and warned that “provoking Hindus every now and then would be disastrous for the communal harmony” in the country.

He said that institutions such as the NGT should refrain from playing with the sentiments of Hindus and restrict themselves to the job they are assigned with.

King C Bharati, a senior journalist and national spokesperson of the APMCC while condemning the order, challenged the NGT to stop them from chanting religious mantras as it amounted to negate the basic spirit behind the most pious pilgrimages of Hindus and direct interference into their religious beliefs.

He said that APMCC would form a squad of hundred volunteers who would visit the shrine next year and chant religious mantras and ring the bells. He dared the NGT to arrest them.

Advocate Arun Kandroo, general secretary of the APMCC, said despite Amarnath Shrine Board’s effort to convince the NGT about the sanctity of the chanting of mantras, the tribunal deliberately issued the order to provoke Hindus.

Far-right regional political party Shiv Sena has also castigated the NGT order.

Speaking to media state unit president of the outfit Dimpy Kohli said that this will hurt the religious sentiments of Hindu pilgrims.

He appealed the government of India to stop hurting religious sentiments of the Hindus on “one pretext or the other.”

First Published: Dec 14, 2017 19:45 IST