Like Yatris, Hajj pilgrims should be exempted from toll tax: Mehbooba

Like Yatris, Hajj pilgrims should be exempted from toll tax: Mehbooba

Anantnag: Asking the government to ensure that no community feels discriminated against, former J&K chief minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said that she hoped the government would exempt Hajj pilgrims from the highway toll tax, just as Amarnath Yatris are exempted.
Mehbooba was talking to media persons on the sidelines of a PDP workers’ meeting here in Anantnag. While she was talking about the curbs on movement of civilian vehicles during movement of Yatris on the national highway, she was asked about the exemption from the toll tax for Yatris and not for the Hajj pilgrims.
Mehbooba said that she does not want to make it a matter of Yatris against Hajj pilgrims but at the same time expressed hope that the government will look into the matter.
“Everyone has a right to pray in the way they want, and the government is expected to take necessary measures and make sure that no one feels discriminated against,” Mehbooba said.
She said that she expected Governor Satya Pal Malik to exempt Hajj pilgrims from the toll tax as well.
She expressed dismay over the inconvenience caused to local commuters in wake of security arrangements made for the Amarnath Yatra.
“It seems like all the measures taken are against the local people. The locals cannot move on the highway while the Yatra is moving, even in case of extreme emergencies,” she said.
Terming the measures as injustice towards Kashmiri people, Mehbooba said that such things cause a strain in relations “which have been cordial, to say the least, for centuries in Kashmir.”
“Yatra has been going on for decades and it should not be turned into an issue of security. It’s an issue of faith and pilgrimage and should be dealt with accordingly,” she said.
The former chief minister urged the Government of India to soften its stand on talks with separatist leaders. “The Hurriyat leadership rejected the Parliamentary committee in 2016, the interlocutor Dineshwar Sharma and the ceasefire in 2017. I feel the GoI is now repeating the same mistake,” Mehbooba said.
She said that the GoI should avail the opportunity, “as some Hurriyat leaders have shown readiness for talks”, and asserted that the Kashmir issue cannot be solved with military might.