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Pandit devotees protest against “inadequate facilities” at Kheer Bhawani temple 

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DC says all facilities are in place; “some anti-social elements are spreading misinformation”

Srinagar: A group of Kashmiri Pandit devotees on Saturday held a protest in Ganderbal district, alleging inadequate facilities for the pilgrims at the annual Kheer Bhawani Mela. 

A group of devotees who reached the revered temple shrine of Ragnya Devi in Tulmulla area of the central Kashmir district for the annual fair to be held on Sunday alleged that they faced a lot of problems due to inadequate facilities. 

The devotees, including women and children, raised slogans against the administration. 

“We have been here since yesterday and are facing a lot of problems. There are no facilities for pilgrims like drinking water, accommodation, etc,” a protesting devotee claimed.

“The authorities were aware that we are coming here and they should have made proper arrangements for us,” she said, adding that they were so dejected that they decided to leave last night only. 

Another protester said authorities had ensured the community that all facilities would be made available at the temple shrine, but there were no such arrangements.

“No one, not even the deputy commissioner, visited here yesterday… They are only making money in the name of Kashmiri Pandits,” he said. 

The protestors alleged they had to sit under the open sky for the whole night.

“There are inadequate facilities for the pilgrims. There is no drinking water, no water in the toilets…no facility is here,” another devotee said. 

However, Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Shyambir, said “some anti-social elements were spreading misinformation”. 

“Last night, pilgrims reached here, food and other facilities for their stay were in place, but due to inclement weather, water penetrated some tents. We had a meeting with all pilgrims and we are resolving their issues,” Shyambir told reporters at the shrine complex. 

He said volunteers and ‘langar’ providers were providing their services, “but some anti-social elements are spreading misinformation”. 

“We have adequate lodging, and accommodation facilities here, but, despite that, there was a protest. We should understand that there were 2,400 pilgrims here and only 12 people protested,” the Deputy Commissioner said.

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