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No plans to curtail Amarnath Yatra: Centre

PTI 04 Jun 2015, 19:07:18 IST

New Delhi/Srinagar: The Amarnath Yatra, the nearly two-month long annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, will go ahead as scheduled next month, Government said today while rejecting demands by some separatists to curtail its duration.

“The yatra will go on as per schedule. It will start on July 2 and will continue for 59 days,” a Home Ministry official said in Delhi.

The Home Ministry's reaction came after separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Shabeer Shah and others demanded curtailment of the duration of the Amarnath Yatra citing “fragile environmental conditions” of the mountainous region.

All security arrangements have been put in place and standard operating procedures (SoPs) will be followed for contingencies, the official said.

In Srinagar, Union minister Jitendra Singh accused the separatists of politicising the matter, saying there was scientific evidence to show that the pilgrimage can be held throughout the year.

“It (duration of Amarnath Yatra) is a question which has to be addressed scientifically. We have substantial geology survey reports and scientific evidences which show that you can have Amarnath Yatra throughout the year, of course by keeping checks on environment,” he told reporters.  

“This two-month period is determined by the auspicious time... The dates have been finalised by them (Yatra Board) and we will not interfere in the religious part. They say this is the most auspicious period, but scientifically nowhere is it written as to when the Yatra should take place,” Singh, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, said.

“The environmental concerns are genuine but they (separatists) are trying to politicise the matter. Barring weather problems, there are no other issues,” Singh said while recalling that India's first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, along with his newly married bride, had undertaken the Yatra in the month of February or March.  

Singh, member of Lok Sabha from Udhampur constituency, said separatists rake up such issues every year before the commencement of the Yatra.