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India promotes Hindu pilgrimage as sign of peace in Kashmir

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-31 21:13:10-04

PAHALGAM, India (AP) — India is pitching a Hindu pilgrimage to a snowy cave shrine in disputed, Muslim-majority Kashmir as evidence of peace in a state marred by decades of armed conflict amid popular resistance to Indian rule.

Tens of thousands trek the annual yatra, or spiritual journey, to the Amarnath shrine, a hallowed mountain cave where an icy stalagmite is revered as an image of the Hindu god Shiva.

The Jammu and Kashmir state government is using this year’s pilgrimage to highlight something beyond the frequent skirmishes between armed separatists and Indian soldiers that have cost about 70,000 lives.

The state, run by a governor appointed by India’s Hindu nationalist-led central government, has spent huge sums on an advertising campaign, including ads in two of India’s highest circulation dailies, and on security.