Notwithstanding the controversy created by vested interests on the nature of Icelingam in the holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath Ji, rush of devotees on the annual pilgrimage is unabated and daily more than ten thousand of devotees coming via Battal and Pahalgam to pay obeisance at the abode of Lord Shiva in north Kashmir. There is no let up in the enthusiasm of the devotes, coming from different parts of the country for whom the sanctity of the holy cave shrine is much more important than the rumours about alleged fiddling with the Icelingam. ?Rumours over the nature of Icelingam can'tdispel our faith in sanctity of the cave shrine,?? the pilgrims on way to Amarnathji told the Organiser.
They observed that sanctity of the cave shrine is not only because of formation of a temporary Icelingam there but the legend of Amar Katha. According to the Hindu belief, Lord Shiva had narrated Amar Katha to Mata Parvati in this holy cave.
The devotees also feel that the some anti-Hindu and vested elements were fueling the controversy over Icelingam for sabotaging the annual pilgrimage which commenced on June 11 for two months. ?The whole controversy may have been triggered to hurt the sentiments of Hindus and put their religious belief down,?? observed Dr Ramakant Dubey, state president of Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Ironically, the controversry refuses to die even after a clarification from Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, the Government body headed by Governor Lt. Gen (Retd) S.K. Sinha, which looks after affairs of the cave shrine, that putting some snow on the Icelingam was practiced in past also and the excerise was not aimed to hurt the religious sentiments of the devotees.
Unfortunately some religious leaders are also seem playing in the hands of a section of media which is trying to keep the controversy alive. Without sensing the deep-rooted conspiracy behind the whole controversy, they are issuing statements of a probe into the whole matter. They are forgetting that a religious belief is not a subject of probe.
Shiv Lingam darshan on May 5, 2006
Earlier also, attempts have been made to create un-necessary controversies on the issue of pollution and threat to ecology of picturesque places of Pahalgam and Nunwan. Much hue and cry was raised in this regard and a section of media in Kashmir Valley continued to portray the Amarnath pilgrimage not in the interest of Kashmir and Kashmiris. Besides a controversy over the engagement of workers from outside the State was also raked up by certain elements.
Last year also, there was a controversy over restricting the pilgrimage to one month only and then Chief Minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed had come openly against Governor S K Sinha who wanted to extend the pilgrimage period to two months. In another bid to create hurdle in the smooth functioning of the Amarnath Shrine Board, the State government disallowed the Shrine Board to use the forest land for constructing pre-fabricated structures along the track and camping grounds for Amarnath Yatra, last year but the Division Bench of the High Court gave a sigh of relief to the board by staying the government order.
Thousands of pilgrims trek inhospitable terrain in Himalayas to reach the Amarnath cave, at an altitude of 3,952 meters (13000 ft.) above sea level, braving the terrorist threat to pay obeisance at natural ice lingam, depicting Lord Shiva'sepitome. The Lingam attains a maximum height of 8 feet and 7 feet in diameter, and varies in size as the moon waxes and wanes.
In his attempt to stay clear of the controversy, S K Sinha asserted that ?the Lingam was not tampered with.? He questioned as why this matter did not came up when he inaugurated the yatra on June 11 in front of entire media under complete public glare.
This issue has also brought Hindu groups and authorities of Amarnath Shrine Board in direct confrontation with each other. This has even ignored the first Islamic militants? attack on pilgrims from Rajasthan on June 21. Five among 40 pilgrims boarding a bus were injured in a grenade attack while it had stopped to fetch drinking water at Beehalma on Baltal route. Vishwa Hindu Parishad Jammu and Kashmir president Ramakant Dubey has said the controversy has hurt the sentiments of millions of Hindus within and outside the country.
Fifty-year-old Shiv Raj Sawant from Maharashtra after taking up the pilgrimage said, ?I do not know what is a reality. But, it is shame for all Hindus who are not least bothered about their religious matter. They should learn from other communities how they stand united on even trifle matters related to their religious beliefs. No religious heads and groups are raising this issue seriously to book the culprits.