Srinagar: Renowned Hindu religious scholar and social activist Swami Agnivesh on Saturday blamed the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for minting money and exploiting sentiments of millions of Hindus by conducting the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir, and demanded an end to the Yatra “once and for all.”
“Shivlingam formed inside the Amarnath cave is a natural phenomenon. It is surprising why people go with such a craze to see this ice formation in the cave. The formation is geographical in phenomena which is called stalactite. Stalactite is a type of formation that hangs from the ceiling of caves, hot springs, or manmade structures such as bridges and mines. The ‘Shivlingam’ like structures are common in European countries, and I have myself observed such structures in Austria and Switzerland,” Agnivesh was quoted as saying by local news agency CNS, adding that it is only the blind faith and the widespread propagation about the cave that attracts number of yatris towards it.
Agnivesh said that it is “sheer luck” of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) that it is still able to mint money for conducting Yatra “which needs to wound up once (and) for all.”
“Each year we lose precious lives due to this Yatra which has become a money minting tool for SASB. Let me make it clear that there is nothing in those mountains and cave. People should not put their lives in danger by visiting there,” Agnivesh said.
“Amarnath Yatra is a handy tool for SASB and Hindu extremists to exploit the sentiments of millions of Hindus across the country. How come it is possible that by visiting the Amarnath cave one could become pure,” he said.
“Pilgrims are being flocked to cave to die, and we all know last year so many people lost their lives there. I appeal pilgrims to understand the designs of SASB and Hindu zealots who propagate this Yatra in such a big way that every Indian gets attracted towards it,” Agnivesh said, adding that it is “better for Hindus to die in their homes instead of in the mountains of Amarnath.”
Agnivesh also said that the Baltal violence on Friday should be thoroughly probed and guilty should be booked. “People should not communalize this issue. Peace, amity and harmony must prevail, but state government should compensate the poor people whose tents gutted in the violence,” he said, and appealed people to maintain communal harmony.