Highway Ban: Admin urged to find ways for tackle yatra traffic woes

Showing resentment over restrictions on the movement of civilians on the national highway, custodian of ‘Chhari Mubarak’ (the holy mace of Lord Shiva) Mahant Deependra Giri urged the government to devise a proper mechanism to tackle the traffic woes due to the ongoing Amarnath yatra.

“It’s good to take precautionary measures but at the same time, a mechanism should be devised to minimise the inconvenience caused to the local population,” Giri told reporters after the holy mace was taken to Pahalgam in south Kashmir on Tuesday.

The restrictions on the national highway had earlier drawn widespread resentment from all walks of life, especially the business community and tourism stakeholders. The state government had initially banned the civilian traffic for five hours a day from July 1, when the yatra started in order to allow unrestricted access to vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims. The movement of civilian vehicles had been banned from Nashri to Qazigund but after resentment, restrictions were reduced to two hours.

Amid a clamour to lift the restrictions on civilian traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, Governor Satya Pal Malik had earlier said the people should bear the same.

Meanwhile, Giri said ‘bhoomi pujan’, ‘navgrah pujan’, ‘chhari pujan’ and ‘dhawajarohan’ ceremonies were performed at Pahalgam, which serves as the traditional route for the Amarnath yatra, on the occasion of ‘Ashad Purnima’.

“People of J&K irrespective of their caste, creed or religion have been cooperating, assisting and encouraging the pilgrims and sadhus who come here from across the country and even abroad for this annual pilgrimage,” he added.

The holy mace will be taken to Shankracharya Temple on August 1 and Sharika Bhawani Temple the next day. The Amarnath yatra will conclude once the holy mace reaches the cave shrine on August 15.