Pilgrims protest over poor facilities at Kheer Bhawani

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, May 27: On eve of annual Kheer Bhawani Mela, a group of Kashmiri Pandits staged a protest in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district accusing administration of making poor arrangements for the pilgrims at the temple site.
While some Kashmiri Pandits arrived last evening at the Tullamulla shrine, a large number of Kashmiri Pandits are expected to converge at the Tullamulla for the annual Mela Kheer Bhawani festival on Sunday.
Located at Tullamulla, 27 km from Srinagar, the shrine of Ragnya Devi has for years been hosting the annual mela attracting devotees especially Kashmiri Pandits from all over.
“After we reached here last evening, we saw inadequate facilities for the pilgrims,” said a Kashmiri Pandit who was part of the protest. “There were no facilities of drinking water and accommodation for pilgrims.”
The protesting Pandits said that it was strange that the Government knew that they were coming here and proper arrangements should have been made.
“Last night, after seeing poor arrangements we thought of returning,” a woman protester said.
The protesters shouted slogans against the authorities.
Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Shyambir, said last night pilgrims reached Kheer Bhawani Mela and some “anti-social elements were spreading misinformation”.
“We had made arrangements for food and their stay , but due to inclement weather, water penetrated in some tents. We had a meeting with all pilgrims and we are resolving their issues along with volunteers,” Shyambir told reporters at the shrine complex.
He said some anti-social elements were spreading misinformation.
“We had adequate accommodation last night and 12 rooms of a school were vacant and still a protest was held here. We should understand that there were 2400 people (pilgrims) here and the number of those who held protests was 12,” DC said.
Apni Party youth Wing general secretary, Abhay Bakaya, Kashmiri Pandit Conference, president, Kundan Kashmiri, Aam Aadmi Party, Migrant Cell convener , M K Yogi and other KP leaders have also expressed serious concern over the problems faced by the pilgrims at holy shrine due to lack of facilities.
Meanwhile, keeping the tradition alive pooja was held at ancient Sandal wood by the devotees at Mata Kheer Bhawani Manzgam in Kulgam district today. A large number of devotees participated in the pooja which was led by Kuldeep Raina president of Shrine Committee Manzgam and pooja was performed by Suman Jyotshi and Avtar Jyotshi. The Flag of Lord Hanuman was also hoisted on the tree by devotees on the occasion.