New Delhi: Ahead of the commencement of the Amarnath Yatra, the VHP has requested Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti for handing over its security to the Army with "free hand".
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has also demanded opening of the alternate Leh-Kargil route for the pilgrimage, saying it would require least facilities.
VHP's international joint general secretary Surindra Jain has written letters to Mehbooba and Vohra, who is also the Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).
In view of the "disturbances" created by separatists, stone pelters and terrorists to pilgrims in the past, the government should open the Leh-Kargil-Drass-Baltal route and hand over the security of entire pilgrimage routes to the Army with a free hand, Jain demanded.
He claimed that the Leh-Kargil route was also suggested by the judiciary and SASB.
The Leh-Kargil route requires less facilities and pilgrims can start early in the morning from Drass and return back after paying homage at the holy cave in the same evening provided, the traffic is managed at Jozilla Pass, Jain added.
As of now, the pilgrimage is being done through two routes either via Pahalgam or Baltal. It is scheduled to begin on June 29 and will go on till August 7.
Perfectly designed disaster management and evacuation plans should be prepared in advance keeping in view the possible threats in the pilgrimage, Jain said.
Service tax on helicopter services should immediately be withdrawn as these are being seen as Jazia (a tax levied by islamic states) by Hindu devotees visiting the state for pilgrimage purposes, he added.
He further demanded that vehicles carrying pilgrims for Amarnath yatra should be exempted from road tax and other taxes en route as a goodwill gesture from the state government and also requested for early start of the yatra.