’Jammu, Aug 27: Protests erupted at Gulabgarh in Kishtwar district today as hundreds of Machail Mata Ji pilgrims, who stranded for days together again failed to get chopper service to holy shrine from the base camp.
The pilgrims, who resorted to demonstration at Gulabgarh, accused management of the two private air services Pawan Hans and UTAIR running the chopper sorties to the holy shrine as per the agreement made by them with the district administration of backtracking the same with the result over 300 pilgrims from different parts of Jammu were stranded at Gulabgarh.
The pilgrims, who raised the slogans against the management of the air services and administration, alleged that the district administration was not taking any action in the matter. They said that some yatris were stranded at Gulabgarh for last five days and put to many hardships.
Some yatris who reached Gulabgarh on August 22 and had got the ticket of August 23, were also stranded as priorities were given to those pilgrims who are recommended by the district administration. They said that the administration is hand in glove with the management of two private air services running the sorties to holy shrine.
They said “as the annual yatra will culminate on August 31 and only four days are left now so we are perturbed that how we can perform the pilgrimage as the two air services have curtailed the sorties”.
The pilgrims said that there was an agreement of the private air services Pawan Hans and UTAIR with the administration that they will keep the two choppers each for the carriage of Machail Mata pilgrims. Out of the two one chopper each will remain stand by while the others will carry the pilgrims. However Pawan Hans shifted its one chopper to Mani Mahesh for carrying pilgrims there while the one chopper of other company developed a snag with the result the pilgrims were put to hardships which led to a law and order problem.
A pilgrim Janki Nath of Gulabgarh said that the yatris, who had tickets for August 23, have not been cleared till date. He accused the management of the air services and administration of creating problems deliberately.
He said the yatris have no proper arrangements also as it is difficult for them to remain stranded at this far off place for days together. He said maximum stranded pilgrims are old and infirm while some are differently abled persons who can’t go on foot as the road to holy shrine is tough and terrain.
A pilgrim Neelam from Jammu, who is also a differently abled person, said she was stranded at Gulabgarh for last three days and there is no response from administration as well as the management of the air services to their queries that for how many more days they have to wait.
Sudershan Singh, another pilgrim from Reasi, said that he was stranded for four days and those pilgrims are given preference, who are recommended by VIPs or have reference of the officers in district administration.
Shiv Kumar, yet another pilgrim from Reasi who along with his five colleagues was stranded for three days said that tickets are sold in black while the deserving pilgrims were not being attended to.
“There is no control of local administration over the air services and they show their helplessness when the pilgrims approach them”, he added.
Sanjay Parihar, a pilgrim from Jammu said that administration didn’t bother to look into the problem which has led to lot of resentment among the pilgrims.
When contacted ADC, Kishtwar, Kishori Lal told Excelsior that there is an agreement with the two air services that they will run one chopper each while another will be on stand by. However due to heavy rush the air services are unable to cater to it. The administration also allowed them to run the stand by choppers and Pawan Hans is running another service from tomorrow. Hopefully the rush will be controlled by tomorrow, he added.