‘Our caravan was attacked by protesters. Our vehicles had women and children’

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By Citizen Journalist Gaurav Balgotra

Jammu, July 11: Terror in the valley has foiled the Yatra plans of many. Two pilgrims who returned with the others from Quazigund without performing the yatra shared their horrible experience. Ritu Soni and Vidya Soni from Rajasthan told that on their way to Amarnath Ji on 9th of July their caravan was forced to stop as the protest broke out in the area of Qazigund in Kulgam district.

Their caravan was attacked by protesters and stones were thrown on the buses and cars which even had kids and women in it. The protesters even torched gas cylinders near the caravan but fortunately the mighty Indian Army came to their rescue and took the caravan under their protection to the nearby camp.

Ritu Soni and Vidya Soni coming back from Qazigund
Ritu Soni and Vidya Soni coming back from Qazigund
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They later on helped them to return back to Jammu region and escorted them to Jawahar tunnel at 2 a.m. in the night. Hopefully government addresses the genuine issues faced by pilgrims as they face hardship in residing in J&K for the yatra. Moreover, hopefully the people of Kashmir will understand that by harming pilgrims all they will do is to defame their own state on the whole.

Lack of planning has brought pilgrims on footpath, literally

 Pilgrims continue to suffer and sleep on footpaths as Amarnath Ji bound pilgrims have been disallowed to move forward to Srinagar owing to the precarious situation prevalent there.

Amarnath Yatris on Footpath

Government provided accommodations such as Saraswati Dham, Shiv Mandir, Gorkha Mandir (Nanak Nagar) and few others near the Jammu Tawi Railway Station are more than full which has led to worsening of the conditions of pilgrims and now they are forced to sleep on the footpaths, outside the Railway Station reservation counter and near information Centre of Jammu & Kashmir Police.

People sleeping outside railway station reservation counter

It is not a new thing where pilgrims face hardships  in going to the valley year after year. The last five years have seen either rains or unrest hurting the pilgrimage every year which has repeatedly led to Yatris getting stuck in Jammu and other places of the state. However, that did not act as a precursor to some brainstorming to avoid repetition of these problems before the Yatra was to begin this year. and the result is evident here.