Anantnag: In yet another example of communal harmony, local Muslims participated in a special prayer performed as a part of the ongoing Amarnath yatra in Mattan area of terrorism-hit Anantnag district in south Kashmir on Tuesday.
Hundreds of Kashmiri pandits and Muslims welcomed Chari Mubarak (holy mace) as part of Amarnath yatra and participated in the prayer at Mattan Martand Mandir here.
People sang bhajans (devotional songs) and prayed for peace and prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the country.
Talking to ANI, Gulam Rasool Bhat, a local, said the area is known as a perfect example of communal harmony.
"We are living here with communal harmony and brotherhood since ages. When there is any special day of Hindus, Muslims take part and when Muslims celebrate, Hindus participate in it. The unity is such here that you cannot differentiate between Hindu and Muslims here," he said.
"We prayed for peace (at the puja) in the valley," he added.
Muhammad Yusuf, another Kashmiri Muslim, said people in the area have been living peacefully.
He said, "People from all communities participate in all festivals irrespective of their religion. This sends a message to the world that we should live together with peace. We want to live here without fear and peace."
Expressing hope that situation will change in the valley, Shalik Ram, General Secretary of the temple's trust, a Kashmiri pundit, told ANI that local Muslims come from far-flung areas to participate in the puja.
"This day is being celebrated from ages. There is nothing like Hindu, Muslim, Sikh in this matter especially Muslims come here from far flong areas. Our Kashmiri brothers celebrate and sing bhajans here. I have a Muslim Kashmiri who celebrates it very religiously," he said.
He said that people outside Kashmir have a totally different perception about the valley and "there is no problem in Kashmir".
"I want to convey it to the world -- do not think that there is any problem in Kashmir. We trust our Kashmiri brothers more than our relatives. We urge the whole world to come to Kashmir and look at the beauty here. Situations here is very favourable now, he added.
Talking to reporters after the puja, Mahant Depender Giri, who is the custodian of Chari Mubarak, said the number of pilgrims for Amarnath will increase massively as situations change favourably in the valley.
He said: "I think the number of pilgrims will increase as the situations become favourable. This is in the centre of attraction of the yatris. We are hoping the influx of yatris will increase in the days to come."
Similar sentiments were echoed by residents of Baltal, which is located over 160 kilometers far from Mattan.
A few days back, Muslims in Baltal told ANI that the Amarnath Yatra was setting an example of communal harmony between local Muslims and Hindu pilgrims.
They had demanded that the yatra should continue in the state as it creates employment opportunities for the locals and provides local Kashmiris with a chance to serve people, something they link with 'shabab' (blessing).
Over two lakh pilgrims have undertaken the yatra which commenced on July 1, the day of Masik Shivratri....