Sri Sri on panel to decide Amarnath pilgrimage duration

July 23rd, 2011 - 12:58 am ICT by IANS  

Amarnath Shrine Jammu, July 22 (IANS) The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has constituted a panel, headed by spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, to suggest the duration of the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, an issue that has become a bone of contention between the Hindu religious groups and environmentalists as also Kashmir-based parties.

The shrine board announced Friday evening that a sub-committee, headed by Sri Sri Ravi Shanker, who is one of the members of the SASB, would submit a report by Dec 15 to the board to recommend the duration of the pilgrimage, an official release of the SASB late Friday evening said.

“The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, in a significant decision, decided to set up its Sub-Committee under the chairmanship of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Member of the Board, to advise the Board regarding the duration and schedule of the Shri Amarnathji Yatra from Yatra-2012 onwards,” the release said.

The duration of the Amarnath pilgrimage in Kashmir that used to be for one month was extended two months from 2005 onwards. However, it was reduced to 45 days this year. The shrine board had maintained the decision was taken in view of the safety of the pilgrims.

Hindu religious groups had made an issue out of it and charged the shrine board with playing into the hands of Kashmir-centric parties, a reference to the opposition mounted by main opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Kashmiri separatists against the two-month long pilgrimage. “For the sake of environment and the fragile ecology of Kashmir, it is important that the duration of the pilgrimage and the number of pilgrims be reduced to one month,” PDP president Mehbooba Mufti had said.

The Hindu religious groups, particularly Vishwa Hindu Parishad, wanted it to be for two months and even more to allow Hindus to perform the pilgrimage. “The Hindus should have no restriction on their religious rights,” state unit president of VHP Rama Kant Dubey said.

The other members of the sub-committee are Swami Avdheshanandji Maharaj, Joona Peethadishwar, Haridwar; Chandermouli Raina, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Jammu; Prem Gupta, IPS (retd), Jammu; R.L. Bharti, IFS (retd), Jammu; Y.V. Sharma, president, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jammu; and R.K. Goyal, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board as the member-secretary.

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