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Terrorists 'create disaffection among communities': SASB chief

Reacting to controversies surrounding the pilgrimage and terrorist attacks, Sinha talks about the Amarnath pilgrimage becoming a round-the-year reality, reports Arun Joshi.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2007 15:46 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times

Jammu and Kashmir Governor and Chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha feels that the motive behind the latest attacks on pilgrims in Kashmir is to "create disaffection among communities and weaken India."

In his first-ever detailed reaction to controversies surrounding the pilgrimage and terrorist attacks on the pilgrims, Sinha, in a written question and answer interview, told Hindustan Times that round-the-year Amarnath pilgrimage could become a reality and also unveiled the SASB's proposals to prevent melting of Shivlingam.

Regarding the two attacks on the pilgrimage this year so far and the previous grenade throwing incidents on the pilgrims and tourists in Kashmir, SASB chairman noted: "Terrorists have no religion and I consider them lunatic acts of elements inimical to peace, which occur across the State every other day. The motive is the same: create disaffection among communities and weaken India."

The Governor said that religious preacher Murari Bapu and some 300 NRI pilgrims were allowed to hold Ram "Katha" (story of lord Rama) in a shed below the cave. "They paid for the construction of huts built for them which on conclusion of the week-long Katha has been gifted by them to be utilised as assets by SASB for the Yatra. There has been no donation of any huge amount from them."

To a question whether there was a conspiracy to stall or damage the Amarnath pilgrimage, Governor said he "won't call it a conspiracy" but there has been an insensitive portrayal in the media that for the past four years, the 'Yatra ' (pilgrimage ) has remained shrouded in controversies on duration of the Yatra, environmental pollution, allegations of artificial Shivlingam or premature melting of the Ice lingam."

Regarding security forces personnel hugging the Shivlingam, the Governor said, "The CD showing security personnel embracing the Shivlingam has been sent to DGP for investigation and appropriate action will be taken against anyone found guilty."

On preventing the melting of Shivlingam, SASB chairman said, "The matter is subjudice. SASB has been gravely concerned about the premature melting of Shivlingam. We want to provide greater Yatra satisfaction to the pilgrims by ensuring that the Lingam remains intact. A technological solution was sought to be found. Various proposals considered by the Board included adopting the ice skating rink technique, refrigeration inside the cave, putting frozen brine trays, air curtain, radiant cooling panels etc."

"Experiments have been carried at Mumbai, Srinagar and Gulmarg. Air curtain technique appears most promising. Apart from the legal aspect of this issue, we must also have a consensus on undertaking any measure otherwise we would again have an unseemly controversy on this issue as happened last year."

On the SASB plans for making the pilgrimage a round–the-year-affair, he said, "Under present conditions, it is physically impossible to have the year-round Yatra to the Amarnath cave. However, once the unfortunate phase of terrorism is over and some new technological developments take place, the round-the-year Yatra will become a reality."

First Published: Jul 25, 2007 15:35 IST