Thursday, 21 Aug 2014

Amarnath Yatra threatens environmental disaster: Shabir Shah

Author Mukhtar Ahmed - Friday, 03 05 2013 10:44

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Srinagar, May 02: The extension in the duration of annual Amarnath Yatra and the unregulated number of pilgrims is threatening a disaster for the environment in the area, senior separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah said Thursday.

Shah, who also heads the Democratic Freedom Party, alleged that the huge rush of pilgrims has led to some water-borne diseases like Hepatitis-A and B in the area which is threatening local human habitation there.

Notably, in a complete capitulation to the demand of Hindu right wing, the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) extended the Yatra duration to 55 days at the beginning of this year. The increase in the duration, which was limited to 37 days the previous year, has drawn flak from the civil society, separatists as well as the environmentalists.

“Yatris are our guests as they contribute to the tourism sector in Kashmir. But what we are demanding is that their numbers should be regulated and the duration of Yatra decreased so that the local environment and human habitations are not damaged,” Shah told media-persons here.

The Saudi government’s Hajj policy, Shah said should serve an example to the state government and the SASB on how to preserve the ecology while conducting any pilgrimages.

“Millions of Muslims throng Saudi Arabia for Hajj every year. But we haven’t heard about the environment being impacted or birth of any diseases there,” Shah said.

“The SASB can’t even handle a lakh of Yatris properly here. The lack of proper facilities - lavatories, bathrooms, cooking places - has dangerously impacted the whole environment in the area,” he added.

While doing away from rant over the issue by coming on roads and stage protests, Shah said that DFP has decided to raise awareness on the repercussions of prolonged Yatra through ‘literal means’.

“We will issue pamphlets in English and Urdu to aware people in and outside the state about the hazards of increase in Yatra duration on the Kashmir environment. We will also organize a seminar in August this year in this regard,” Shah said while demanding that the affairs of the Yatra should be handed over to Kashmiri Pandits.

“Managing the Yatra is the right of Kashmiri Pandits and it should be given to them. They have conducted it for years in an immaculate manner,” Shah said.

Shah also stressed the need for unity among the separatist leadership saying that disunity among the separatist leadership was working n India’s favour.

Ruling out the prospect of dividing the state of Jammu and Kashmir on linguistic, regional or communal lines, Shah said the pre-1947 status of the state should be maintained.

“The districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Jammu, Udhampur, Kathua, Doda, Bhadarwah, Banihal, Leh and Kargil are important districts of our state and their welfare is also on our agenda,” Shah said.

... dares Omar to revoke ‘black laws’ to see who matters

Srinagar, May 02: Endorsing Hurriyat-G chairman Syed Ali Geelani’s call for boycott of 2014 assembly elections, Shah said that Omar Abdullah will feel the power of Hurriyat if the restrictions on the separatist leaders are removed.

He added that let Omar remove the restrictions and stop slapping PSA (Public Safety Act) on the separatists “he will see how Hurriyat will shake the ground beneath his feet.”

“It is meaningless to contest the elections under the Indian constitution. Only once the separatists are allowed to convey their points of view to people freely, and after the black laws like the AFSPA are repealed, would we think of contesting elections,” he said.

“Omar Abdullah is using his might in restricting our movement to four walls of our homes or jails. Let him remove the curbs on our movement -he will see what Hurriyat is capable of,” said Shah while urging the separatists to tirelessly fight against draconian laws like PSA and AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act).

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