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June 3, 2012

Amarnath row: Police arrest activists in Jammu

Jammu: Following clashes with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal activists, Jammu and Kashmir Police prevented them from joining the annual Amarnath Yatra on Sunday. The activists, angered by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board’s (SASB) decision to reduce the duration of the pilgrimage to 39 days, said they would court arrest if the state authorities stopped them. "Whenever the Amarnath Yatra begins, there is an uproar in the country. When the Mansarovar Yatra can take place at the height 20,000 feet and Kedarnath visit can take place, why are we being stopped from going there (Amarnath)? We will court arrest if the state authorities stop us," said Rajendra Shastri, a member of theVHP. VHP has been adamant on starting the Yatra from Jyesht Purnima, which falls on Sunday, against the state’s schedule of June 25. Gaurav Mittal, a member of Bajrang Dal, slammed the state government for adopting a dictatorial attitude against the outfit’s members. "Earlier, the duration of the Amarnath Yatra was two months, but it has been reduced to just one month and 10 days now. The motive of reducing the duration is to finally stop the Yatra, and we will protest against it till our last breath," Mittal said. Over 1.40-lakh pilgrims have registered for this year's Amarnath Yatra. In 2009, the duration of the Yatra was 60 days, which was reduced to 55 days in 2010 and to 45 days in 2011 by the SASB.

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