Amarnath Pilgrimage- A nationalist symbol of our times

The Amarnath pilgrimage undertaken by lakhs of Hindus is no doubt an important pilgrimage of the Hindus, at the same time, it has also become the symbol of nationalism. A miniature India is created every year when Hindus from every nook and corner of the country land at Amarnath for the pilgrimage. Perhaps this is the basic reason why the separatists of Kashmir are trying tooth and nail to see an end to this pilgrimage. They know well that as long as Baba Amarnath is comfortable sitting atop the hill in Amarnath, their long-cherished dream of making the valley Hindu-less will not be fulfilled. First, they attacked the pilgrims, when even this did not deter the pilgrims from undertaking the pilgrimage, they tried to stop the pilgrimage with the help of their well-wishers in the government and the secular parties. These traitors left no stone unturned in servilely carrying out whatever their separatist masters asked of them. In this sinister game, even the governor, who is considered above politics, went to lengths to implement the conspiratorial agenda of the separatists and the secular. In 2008, the present governnor, Mr Vohra only had disrespected the Shiva-devotees and the country by returning the Amarnath land. Then the Shiva-devotees of the country had taken this up as a challenge for the country and the whole nation had stood rock solid behind them. The Pakistan supporters carrying Pakistan flags would shout ‘Down with India’ slogans.’ The soldiers of the Indian army were referred to as ‘Indian dogs’ by these separatists. On the contrary, the Shiva-devotees, carrying Indian flags, shouting slogans of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jay’ (Long live India) would brave the batons of the police and the patriotism that was inherent in them would not allow them to take even a step back. The so-called ‘national media’ then got a taste of who the real ‘nationalist’ was. In this war of nationalism, eventually, the winner was nothing else but patriotism and a wave of nationalism swept the terra firma of the country and everyone understood that the symbol of unity of the country, Amarnath, as long it will stay intact, no separatist can disintegrate India.

Even after this movement, the separratists did not stay quiet. In 2009, they threatened to not let the pligrimage go on for more than 30 days. Till then, the pilgrimage used to last for 60 days. The pilgrimage would start with the Jyeshtha Purnima (Hindu full moon day of the Jyeshtha month) to the Shravan Purnima and the Hon. High Court had even ordered that the security of the pilgrims be ensured. The Mukherjee committee was formed to ensure the success of this pilgrimage. His recommendations were also the same. Despite this, the present governor decreased the duration of the pilgrimage from 60 days to 55 days in 2010. On the orders of the Court, the Shree Amarnath Shrine Board was formed to oversee the working of the pilgrimage and the governor is the ex-officio president of the Board. The constitution of the Board, the rulings of the High court and the Mukerjee Committee report clearly outline the rights and the obligations of the Board. The reponsibility of the Board is to make adequate facilities so that all pilgrims can undertake the pilgrimage in a secure manner. The Board has no right to interefere in the internal matters of the pilgrimage. It is not the Board’s job to take a call on the pilgrimage’s date, mahurt or the duration of the pilgrimage. This is in strict contravention of Article 25 and 26 of the Constitution. The Hindu saints and the tradition are important enough to take a call on this. Despite this, the Board has been trying to interfer with the workings of the constitution. In 2010, thre Hindu society opposed this. The the governor had assurred that this mistake would not be repeated in 2011. But,in 2011, this was further reduced to 45 days. At that time, a sub-committee was formed and the Hindu society was beguiled into believeing that action was being taken. The sub-committee was told that if the duration was increased, then separatists would take umbrage and there could be a repeat of 2008. Even, the logic of environment was put forward. When this found no takers, it was said this time the Jyeshtha Purnima has arrived early and hence the snow could not be cleared on time. Even this mindless logic was put forward only to keep the separatists in good humour. When the Srinagar-Jammu Highway can be cleared of snow in 7 days and the 15-16 feet wall of snow on the Rohtang pass can be cleared in 6 days, then why can’t the 13 km of Amarnath be cleared? The state administration had said that if the Board asks them to, then it can clear the road. Despite this, if the Board put its foot down on the decision, then this means that the Board is conspiring to gradually put an end to this pilgrimage. In 2012, this has been reduced to only 39 days. This decsion of the Board is not only completely anti-national, anti-constitutional and anti-pilgrimage, but also a contempt of the court.
The Siva-devotees have taken this up as a challenge. When Dr Pravin Togadia, the working President of the VHP reached Amarnath, the separatists greeted him by burning his effigies. Immediately, thereafter, a false case was lodged against Dr Togadia, as if the governor was just lying in wait for the same. Now, we know that this conspiracy was launched only to appease the separatists at the behest of the central government. Now, curfew in being imposed everywhere to gag the shiva-devotees. Even the leaders who are going there to show sympathy with them are being arrested. It seems that 2008 is being repeated. The separatist forces are rallied against Baba Aamarnath, the so-called secular parties of the country are conspiring against the Baba, however, the nationalist forces of the country are rallying together to respond to this challenge. The Shiva-devotees have decided that the pilgrimage as was the practice in the past will be for 2 months. The mahurt of the pilgrimage will be 4th of June only and the pilgrims in their lakhs will reach the place. This year too, the nationalist citizens of the country will have to take up the challenge. Only then, will we come to know, who willl rule the roost in the country, the nationalists or the separatists. The citizens of the country should accept the challenge and participate in the pilgrimage in ever larger numbers.