SRINAGAR: A row has erupted in Kashmir over the Kashmiri Pandits’ pilgrimage (yatra) to Kousar Naag - a virgin glacial spring in Pirpanjal mountain range in South Kashmir with hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani accusing the J&K Government and Hindu groups of adding another yatra destination to “eliminate the Muslim identity of the region” and called for shutdown against the yatra on Saturday.
Located at an altitude of over 12,000 feet above sea level, Kausar Nag is a glacial spring in South Kashmir’s Shopian district. The All Parties Migrants’ Coordination Committee, a body of migrant Kashmiri Pandits, had announced in Jammu that the yatra would be taken out on ‘Naag Panchami’ from July 30 to August 3. At least 4,000 Hindu pilgrims are set to undertake pilgrimage to the place regarded as a purest spring in the Valley.
The trek to Kausar Nag lake has been an annual affair for the past three years, but this is the first time that it has been politicised and will be led by a Kashmiri Pandit group.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has strongly opposed the yatra. Terming the decision of declaring the Kousar Naag a new yatra destination as “destructive” for the fragile environment and water resources of Kashmir, he said it was actually a political decision made under the pressure of the communal-minded people and its only purpose was the cultural aggression on Kashmir.
“The communal forces of India are hell-bent upon to disturb the peace in Kashmir and through the ‘cultural aggression’, they want to eliminate the environment, identity, culture and values of the State and want to forcibly setup their own culture here. The J&K Government is playing an extremely criminal role regarding this issue and instead of raising their voices against this aggression, they are extending their co-operation in every possible way,” Geelani said.
The separatist leader said people of Kashmir were not against the Hinduism or their religious belief, but making of Kousar Naag as the new yatra destination was actually a political decision and “its only purpose is to harm the just struggle of Kashmir and to sabotage the wishes and aspirations of the local population”.