Chamliyal mela becomes victim of Indo-Pak hostility

Chamliyal mela becomes victim of Indo-Pak hostility

For the second consecutive year, the Chamliyal mela on the International Border in the Ramgarh sector of Samba district in Jammu and Kashmir, fell victim to strained relations between India and Pakistan.

The annual mela at the shrine of Baba Dilip Singh Manhas in the ‘no man’s land’ along border, nearly 42 km from Jammu city, is held on June 27 every year and is a tradition that had been going on for over 300 years.

But as tensions escalated between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, it was suspended in 2018 for first time since India and Pakistan gained independence. Government of India decided to cancel the event last year following sniping by the Pakistan Rangers on the BSF post at the Chamliyal shrine, a week before the mela. Four BSF men, including an Assistant Commandant, were killed in the attack.

Like 2018, Border Security Force (BSF) and their Pakistani counterparts, the Rangers, did not hold a flag meeting ahead of the cross-border Sufi religious congregation to discuss modalities, official said. So, there will be no participation by people from Pakistan this year.

The main role of the BSF was to handover holy ‘shakkar’ and ‘sharbat’ (holy soil and water) to the Rangers for people of Pakistan followed by a flag meeting between them. On the Pakistani side the mela lasts three days beginning last Thursday of June every year in Saidawali village of Sialkot which is opposite Chamliyal village on the Indian side of the border.

Pakistan Rangers used to handover a “chaddar” (ceremonial cloth) and sweets to BSF who in return presented “shakkar and sharbat” that many believe cure skin ailments. Before 1971, Indo-Pak war, Pakistani devotees were permitted to visit India’s side of the border. However, after that only Pakistani Rangers were permitted to take part in the fair to offer Chaddar on behalf of the Pakistani populace.

Usually, the process of holding the joint religious event would commence a month before a Pakistani delegation was received at the border event to pay obeisance at the dargah popularly known as Baba Chamliyal.

However, reports said, unlike last year, the administration is preparing to for the mela with enthusiasm and all arrangements have been made for the devotees and stalls have been set up near the shrine. The revered shrine has thousands of followers on either side of the border.