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Hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits throng Kheer Bhawani temple

Srigar, June 12: Keeping their tryst with the Hindu deity Mata Ragnya, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday paid obeisance at the Tullamulla shrine in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. Using different modes of conveyance, Kashmiri Pandits, most of them migrants, started reaching Tullamulla town, 24 km from Srigar, since Saturday evening. The annual festival of Mata Kheer Bhawani, the me used by local Pandits for goddess Ragnya, is celebrated each year on this day. Despite their exodus from Kashmir Valley in the beginning of 1990s due to separatist violence, members of the Pandit community have not given up their practice of visiting the temple. Around 13,000 migrant Pandits, including men, women and children, gathered at the shrine by midday Sunday to offer ‘Kheer’ (rice pudding) and flowers to propitiate the goddess. Keeping the centuries old tradition alive, Muslims living in the town came to greet the devotees.

Some Muslims also offered milk to the devotees which was received with love and reverence by members of the Pandit community. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also visited the shrine in the morning. Mufti was accompanied by professor Amitabh Mattoo, advisor to the chief minister with a cabinet minister’s status. A group of migrant Pandits shouted slogans blaming the separatists for their migration and for opposing their return to the valley. They also accused the mainstream political parties of “non-serious approach to problems faced by the Pandit community”. Raj Kumar Bamzai, 46, a migrant who origilly belonged to Habba Kadal area of Srigar city led a group of protesters shouting slogans against a stone pelting incident in Antg district on Friday. (IANS)