Kashmiri Pandits, Kousar Nag Yatra and related controversy

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At least 4,000 people will participate in the yatra to Kausar Nag
A controversy has erupted in Jammu & Kashmir over the Kashmiri Pandits' pilgrimage (yatra) to Kousar Naag.

Days after, Omar Government in the State rescinded the order permitting the event, Kashmiri Pandits in the US have sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the matter. They urged the Centre to overturn an order from the State Government and grant permission to continue the yatra.

What is Kousar Nag Yatra?

The trek to Kausar Nag lake also known as Kramsaras Tirtha (VishnuPaad) yatra, has been an annual affair for the past three years but for the first time it will be led by a Kasmiri Pandit group (All Parties Migrants' Coordination Committee). This year the outfit planned to make usually a low-profile pilgrimage joined by a small number of Kashmiri pandits devotees a comparatively major event by encouraging more people to join. At least 4,000 people will participate in the yatra to Kausar Nag, regarded as a purest spring in the Valley.

Kausar Nag, a virgin glacial spring, is nestled in Pirpanjal mountain range in Shopian district of South Kashmir.

As part of pilgrimage, the devotees reach Kausar Nag on Nag Panchami and hold a six-day puja. The devotees then take a dip in the lake before returning back.

Kashmiri Pandits' stand

The Kashmiri Pandits organisations have strongly condemned the attitude of Omar Government towards them. They said Omar Abdullah Government has buckled under the pressure of some communal elements. Kashmiri Pandits say that yatra is a part of their culture and they have been going to this place from the times immemorial but now a communal colour is being given to it.

'Yatra is part of our culture and it doesn't create pollution'

They say that Kounsar Nag Yatra is a simple pilgrimage to the lake where Pandits offer water to their ancestors after prayers which does not create pollution.

Separatists' view

Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has strongly opposed the yatra. He termed the decision of declaring the Kousar Naag a new yatra destination as "destructive" for the fragile environment and water resources of valley.

He said it 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".

"The communal forces of India are hell-bent upon to disturb the peace in Kashmir and through the cultural aggression," Geelani was quoted as saying in reports.

Geelani also called for peaceful demonstrations on Friday followed by a shutdown in Kashmir valley on Saturday to protest the yatra.

Double-speak of State Government

The Omar Abdullah Government which declared the lake a place of religious significance for Hindus and made extensive preparations for the pilgrims, later on cancelled the yatra.

Reports suggest that the decision to withdraw permission for the yatra from the Kulgam-Aharbal side was taken after shutdown and demonstrations called by Separatists.

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