Frustration and anger is brewing among pony, pithu, palki, tent and kitchen owners as they along with others associated with Amarnath Yatra are finding it difficult to earn a living. Reports said that the arrival of Amarnath Yatri’s in lesser numbers have become a cause of concern for the horse owners and palkiwalas and others.
Interestingly there are 21,000 registered pony walas while as there is no count of unregistered pony owners. A security officials deputed on Yatra told CNS that more locals could be seen at Baltal and Nunwan base camps than the Yatris.
“Apart from 21,000 registered pony walas, there are12786 Palkiwala’s and 3223 Pitthuwala’s. Kashmiri labours have erected at least 17,000 tents at Baltal and 21,00 tents at Pahalgam. Due to various reasons Yatri’s did not turn up for the darshan this year while as the Supreme Court guidelines made it amply complicated for these Yatri’s to visit the Cave without any disturbance,” one of the Amarnath Shrine Board officials told CNS.
“Uttranchal tragedy, registration problems and the statements about the threats issued by the Home Ministry are the basic reasons that most of the Yatri’s even after registering themselves opted not to visit the Cave,” an official said.
“Last year a pony owner used to charge Rs 2800 from a Yatri but this year despite charging Rs 1200 only we find it difficult to get a Yatri motivated. Similarly, Palkiwala’s instead of charging Rs 8,000 charges only Rs 2,800 from a Yatri,” one of the pony owners from Baramula, Abdul Ahad said.
Interestingly, the pony owners in the north Kashmir’s Baltal and south Kashmir’s Nunwan base camps are disappointed because of many reasons this year.
The fact that helicopter services are available to ferry pilgrims to the shrine also appears to have hit the pony owners’ business.
A CRPF official on condition of anonymity told CNS that few days back when protests erupted near Baltal after few Yatri’s from Punjab thrashed a Kashmiri driver, it were these ‘frustrated’ pony, palki and tent owners who set dozens of CRPF tents on fire. “We suffered heavy losses but we could observe their ‘obvious frustration as they are finding it hard to earn a living,” the officer said adding that either the period of the Yatra should be curtailed or Shrine Board should give registration to a limited number of pony owners.