Katra tense: Tussle intensifies between traders, SMVDB over alternate route

KL News Network

Srinagar

Katra Township in Reasi district is tense but peaceful due to on-going tussle between Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) and traders.

The two parties are virtually on warpath after the board decided to alter the route towards the Bhawan, the place where the temple of Hindu Goddess “Vaishno Devi” is. Traders are demanding that the old route which passes through the main bazaar is not abandoned since that would impact their business.

But the board which has already completed the track through Baalni is adamant on changing the route. Board officials who do not wish to come on record told Kashmir Life that the new route would make it convenient for the pilgrims to reach the temple premises by buses.

“The pilgrims would not be required to track 10 kilometers distance by foot. Instead, they would be dropped at Bhawan by bus. Traders fear drop in their business if this route is used which is just a myth,” said an official. He added that the board would not allow the traders to create problems.

On the others hand, traders maintain that they would not allow the shrine board to destroy their business. “This will have serious impact on our business. The pilgrims would not come to this side since they would be straightway dropped at Bhawan. Already, the helicopter service has impacted our business. Now this bus service will lead to permanent destruction of our business,” said Prem Kumar, a hotelier in Katra.

He added that they would be constrained to resort to indefinite strike and sit-in if the board does not give up this “dangerous” idea. Meanwhile, security in the Katra township has been beefed up to ensure that the pilgrims coming from outside the state do not face any inconvenience due to this tussle between the board and the traders.

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