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Hindu reli gious organisations protest against tax on Amarnath pilgrimage

By Devaki

New Delhi, July 7 (ANI): Several Hindu religious organisations are furious at the tax imposed by the Jammu and Kashmir Government on the annual pilgrimage to the holy Amarnath cave shrine.

The protestors raised their voice against the Jammu and Kashmir Government on Wednesday asking it to immediately withdraw the tax.

They also opposed the Rs 25,000 tax being levied on bhandaras (community feasts) being organised for pilgrims.

Religious leaders participating in the demonstration said such decisions hurt the sentiments of the pilgrims.

They blamed the Government for discouraging the pilgrimage instead of providing better amenities.

They urged the Central Government to direct the Jammu and Kashmir Government against imposing such taxes.

"The Hindu pilgrims, now in their own country have to pay tax for pilgrimage, is this justified? That is why all of us from different religious institutions such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Vishwa Hindu Mahasangh and Akhil Bhartiya Sant Samiti are protesting against this," said Mahant Surendra Nath Avadhoot, World Hindu Council member.

"Our demand is that the government should not treat the Hindu pilgrims in a step-motherly way. All the taxes that have been imposed should end. The religious institutions will continue to protest if the government does not end this," he added.

A seven-member representative group later submitted a memorandum to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram demanding immediate and direct intervention of the Central Government, asserting that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had failed to take any note of the gross resentment and anguish that is brewing among people across the country.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government had recently issued a notification under the State Motor Vehicle Taxation Act 1957, under which vehicles going to Amarnath Yatra will have to pay a tax of Rs 3,000 for seven days and Rs 2,000 per day after that.

The Amarnath cave shrine is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the main shrine is claimed to be over 5,000-years-old. (ANI)

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