Even the worst critics of Kashmiris admire them for their whole hearted support to the annual Amarnath Yatra. Whosoever be in office has been praising the majority community for making Yatra a success and making Yatris feel at home, despite the fact that J&K has been facing bloodshed since 1989. From Huriyat to Mainstream, and from a ponywala to a hotelier, every Kashmiri has proved that Kashmiris are truly secular, and believe in respecting other religions. Whenever any untoward incident has taken place, everyone has stood like a rock for Yatra and Yatris. No doubt state government including security agencies cannot take risks, and are dutybound to protect every single Yatri, but unfortunately by closing Jammu-Srinagar highway and abandoning rail services from Banihal to Kashmir valley, entire Kashmir has been caged and isolated from rest of the world; Banihal Srinagar highway is the only exit route from Kashmir valley. One fails to understand how could the order to ban vehicular movement on highway be justified by claiming it is being done for smooth running of the Yatra. If government truly feels it has to prevent general public from travelling on the highway during Yatra period, then it is the biggest failure, as it not only proves incompetence of the authorities to protect Yatris but at the same time the government commits the crime of violating fundamental rights of anyone intending to travel on the high way.
The question is from where the Yatris are facing the threat. When the entire highway is already under complete command and control of security agencies, how is it possible that Yatris could be the target of militants; though the militant outfits have time and again reiterated that Yatris are our guests. The million dollar question is what government wants to achieve by creating fear among Yatris and banning the vehicular traffic on the highway.
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New Delhi wants to kill many birds with one stone. On the one hand it wants to defame Kashmiris and project them as radicals and anti-Hindu, thus using the same perception it leaves no stone unturned to punish Kashmiris, suspend their fundamental rights and give them a sense of defeat. By creating threat perception against Yatris New Delhi is sending message all across the world that it is fighting Islamic radicals, thus playing victim card. It is unfortunate that whenever genuine voices have raised questions about environmental issues related to Yatra or have been asking government to reduce the Yatra period or to limit the number of Yatris to make it manageable for the administration, the radical elements within and outside administration waste not even a second to give these genuine concerns a communal color. This all helps New Delhi to run away from talking on real political issues and justify its horrible policies in Kashmir. The ban seems clearly aimed at teaching Kashmiris a lesson and make them understand their worth. However, those enjoying the helplessness of Kashmiris must realize that New Delhi is the ultimate loser in this entire game as it adds to alienation in Kashmir, thus by default helps Pakistan and its well-wishers to strengthen their narrative in the overall scheme of things. Whatsoever be the real intentions, the ban on vehicular traffic during amaranth Yatra has made neutral political analysts to conclude that even after thirty years of militancy in J&K New Delhi lacks confidence, cannot protect even Yatris, and claims of bringing normalcy back; al this doesn’t match the realities on the ground. While the ban on vehicular traffic during Yatra period must be hurting secular and moderate Hindu voices all over India, the majority community in Kashmir is getting the notion that they are being punished only for being Muslims and Kashmiris. New Delhi needs to rethink that by repeating beaten experiments, hurting self-respect of Kashmiris and resorting to colonial measures who is it helping, and where does this all lead in future.