Sunday February 18, 2018

Amarnath Yatra: Over 2,200 pilgrims leave for the cave shrine

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Jammu: Another batch of over 2,200 Amarnath pilgrims left from here on Sunday for the Himalayan cave shrine in the Kashmir Valley.

“The fourth batch of 2,219 yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu at 4.50 a.m. today (Sunday) in an escorted convoy,” a senior police officer told IANS here.

Over 480 women and 27 children are part of the convoy.

The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath started on July 2 and will end on August 29 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.

“The yatra has been going on smoothly and the issues of security and logistics are being efficiently addressed,” said another senior officer in south Kashmir Anantnag district where the shrine is located.

The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the phases of the Moon.

amarnath caveDevotees call the stalagmite structure the ‘Holy Lingam’ and believe it symbolizes mystical powers of Lord Shiva.

The pilgrims reach the cave shrine situated 14,500 feet above the sea level through the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam and the relatively modern north Kashmir Baltal base camp routes.

Helicopter services are available at Baltal and at Chandanwari (Pahalgam).

Besides, local Muslim potters and ponywallahs help by carrying the weak and infirm pilgrims on horseback or even on their shoulders all along the treacherous mountain trek that is 14-km long via Baltal and 46-km long via Pahalgam route.

(IANS)

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Facts About PoK You Probably Didn’t Know Before

Although 'Azad Kashmir' is of no economic significance to either Pakistan or India, the region is rather a matter of pride

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PoK is one of the most controversial regions in the world. Wikimedia Commons
PoK is one of the most controversial regions in the world. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • PoK or Pakistan Occupied Kashmir is a controversial land
  • The region is the reason for tension between India and Pakistan
  • Pakistan Administered Kashmir is the hub for terrorist activities and is controlled by Pakistan entirely

Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or PoK is the land of much controversy. The region which is also known as Azad Kashmir in Pakistan has been a matter of controversy between India and Pakistan since 1947.

Pakistan Administered Kashmir is a controversial region for both India and Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons
Pakistan Administered Kashmir is a controversial region for both India and Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

United Nations and other international organizations refer to PoK as ‘Pakistan Administered Kashmir.’ This region shares its border with China and Afghanistan and as mentioned above is a very controversial region of crucial importance to both the disputing countries.

Here are few facts about PoK you may not have known before:

  • Even before independence, PoK was never ruled by the Britishers directly. It was under the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh, who wanted to keep Jammu and Kashmir as an independent state when given the choice to choose between India and Pakistan.
  • PoK covers an area of 13,297 square kilometres which is approximate, 5,134 sq. mi. The capital is located at Muzaffarabad.
  • ‘Azad Kashmir’ has a population of around 4.6 million people.
  • 26th October is celebrated as the Accession Day. On this day, Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir signed the Instrument of Accession to India in the year 1947.

    PoK was supposed to be a free, independent state. Wikimedia Commons
    PoK was supposed to be a free, independent state. Wikimedia Commons
  • However, Kashmiri separatists celebrate Accession Day as ‘Black Day.’
  • The Pakistan Occupied Kashmir claims to be having its own self-governing legislative assembly, however, it is no hidden fact that it is controlled by Pakistan only behind the scenes.
  • In PoK, the President is the head of the state, and the Prime Minister is the chief executive, supported by the Council of Ministers. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir also has its own high court and supreme court.

Also Read: Pakistan, China play catch and throw with POK

  • PoK is famous for the terrorist activity in its region. Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the biggest terrorist organisations in the world has several camps in the region.
  • There is no freedom of expression for media in PoK. All media is controlled by Pakistan, including its only radio channel, Azad Kashmir Radio.

    Majority of Azad Kashmir's population earns their livelihood by the means of agriculture. Wikimedia Commons
    Majority of Azad Kashmir’s population earns their livelihood by the means of agriculture. Wikimedia Commons
  • 85% of the population is engaged in agricultural activities. They cultivate wheat, maize, mushroom, honey, apples, walnuts, etc., which are the main source of income for them.
  • Although ‘Azad Kashmir’ is of no economic significance to either Pakistan or India, the region is rather a matter of pride for which both the countries keep on fighting.