hi INDiA Copyright 2020
COVID second wave dashes hope of thousands depend on Shiv Khori pilgrimage
REASI, May 14: A quite unexpected second wave of COVID-19 pandemic has dashed the hopes of thousands of people dependent on the Shiv Khori pilgrimage, who are now sitting idle with no other options left out to overcome their business woes.
The religious tourism in Shiv Khori had picked up in January to middle of April this year with pilgrims coming to pay obeisance at this famous Lord Shiva shrine of Reasi district.
However, the second wave of COVID-19 changed everything. The COVID-19 second wave has shattered the hopes of hundreds of traders in Ransoo, adjoining areas, ponywalas, pithuwalas and others to stabilize the financial burden caused during the last year’s lockdown.
The market in Ransoo wears a completely deserted look from last few weeks as only 20 to 30 pilgrims are coming here every day to pay obeisance at Shiv Khori shrine.
As per the information, a total of 41752 pilgrims paid obeisance at Shiv Khori shrine in the month of April 2021 but only 264 pilgrims had paid obeisance in this Lord Shiva shrine since from 1st May to 13th May.
Sarpanch Vijay Kumar while talking to the EXCELSIOR said that this time the COVID wave has dented the back of poor peoples who are totally dependent on the footfall of Shiv Khori pilgrimage.
Parshotam Kumar whose mules carry goods to shrine said, as religious tourism has been hit badly in Shiv Khori due to COVID-19 crisis, ponywalas are opting for odd jobs including labourer works in the fields.
The pandemic has hit the religious tourism so hard that providing salaries has become difficult for the shop owners to their employees, said a Ransoo based shopkeeper.
A ponyrider from Ransoo said that many of us have opted to work as a labourer in the fields, atleast we won’t starve now and will be able to meet our basic needs.
The shop owners who run shops on the track requested the board to give them relief in payments, rents etc as they lost the business from the last more than one year.
Viki, a local shop owner in a once-crowded market of Ransoo, said, “Our business is almost dead. There is no footfall of pilgrims”.
Sarpanch and others appealed to the District Development Commissioner Reasi and Divisional Commissioner Jammu who is also the Chairman of the board and Lieutenant Governor to provide some relief in this hour of financial scarcity and difficult time.