Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Politics over Pilgrimage: Amarnath Yatra

If there is anybody who has gained from the controversy over the Amarnath shrine board issue, then it is the separatists and the communal forces.

For a long time they didn't have an issue and suddenly all our political parties happily gave the anti-Indian forces, something that they needed so desperately.

People of the country and state are paying for the former Governor (Lt Gen retired) SK Sinha's unwise move in the form of violence, fall of the government and the rise in communal feelings. Mixing religion with politics is always dangerous.

When it is done in a troubled state like Kashmir, it becomes even more dangerous. In a matter of days, the entire peace was broken and voices like Hurriyat that had been marginalised are gaining strength.

Veteran journalist Prem Shankar Jha writes that until recently North and South Block were congratulating themselves on solving the Kashmir issue as infiltration was down, tourism was back and violence was contained.

But an immature decision led to valley erupting into protests and now the old bitterness is back among both the sides: the Muslims of Valley and the Hindus of Jammu, who are feeling equally hurt and victimised.

The creation of Shree Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) with the Governor as its head was the first move along with extension of Amarnath Yatra to 45 days towards creating a controversy. The recent decision over transfer of land added fuel to fire.

"The NDA government's decision to make the governor the head of the SASB, provided he was a Hindu, turned a pilgrimage into a political action. It was also a surreptitious violation of India's constitution...", writes Jha, in Outlook.

Now with Ghulam Nabi Azad-led government having fallen over the controversy, nobody has benefited. Congress, PDP, National Congress and the BJP are all to be blamed for this crisis. BJP should have taken a far reasonable position than raising the communal

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