Be it the Kashmiri shawls sellers at the local shops near the Amarnath cave, or the men who run the pony rides, or the people who have made the temporary shops offering puja material--the Muslim community in the valley is just as involved in the 45-day Amarnath yatra as the Hindus.
The revered Hindu pilgrimage resumed on Saturday from Jammu amidst tight security after remaining suspended for two days for the second time in one week due to violent protests in Kashmir following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.
However, despite the tensions over Wani's death in the valley, traditional yatra is mostly run by Muslims, reports The Indian Express.
Most Muslim traders and shopkeepers look forward to the event all year.
"We wait for the Amarnath Yatra for the whole year, we want that the yatra to progress peacefully — our livelihood is dependent on it," Tariq Ahmad, a shopkeeper who sells traditional Kashmiri outfit to the yatris at Baltal, told NDTV. "It is not just a job, it also gives me satisfaction," he added.
Thousands of Muslims join the yatra each year, offering their services which range from — doing odd jobs, renting out their ponies, or working as palanquin-bearers.
"Many young people from the Chenab Valley have been coming to offer services for six years now. I help aged pilgrims in climbing the difficult track of Chandanwari up to the cave on a palanquin," Ajaz Ahmad, a palanquin owner, of Wardwan, Kishtwar, told The Hindu.
"Amarnath yatra has resumed from here. Around 100 vehicles left the Bagwati Nagar base camp for Baltal and Pahalgam," Deputy Commissioner of Jammu, Simrandeep Singh told PTI.
The yatra was first suspended on 9 July in the wake of violence in the Valley following the killing of the top Hizbul Mujahideen commander. It was again suspended on 14 July.
Kashmir Valley has seen violent protests in which 38 people have lost their lives after security forces gunned down the poster boy of Hizbul Mujahideen outfit Wani in an encounter in South Kashmir on 8 July.
When asked about the pilgrims' buses being attacked in the area, Mohammed Rafi, a student from Pehalgam told IE, "What was the need to kill Burhan Wani? He was the one who promised pilgrims would not be attacked...."
(With inputs from agencies)
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