The first day of the Navratas was marked by a pilgrim protest at Jawalamukhi against the alleged extortion by the police from tourist bus drivers during their travel in Kangra district.
Sandeep Tiwari, a tourist from Ayodhya (UP), said pilgrims from Ayodhya had come to pay obeisance at the Shakti peeths in this state. He said they were travelling by a private bus (UP 45F 1488) and when they reached the Kangra bypass on way to Jawalamukhi on Friday, they were stopped by the police. He said as the documents of the bus were complete they were allowed to move after paying Rs 500 to the police with an assurance that they would not have to pay this entry fee again.
He alleged that when they reached Bohan Chowk at Jawalamukhi on way to Chintpurni, the documents were again checked by the police and found to be complete, but they were asked to pay Rs 500 as entry fee. They told the police that they had already paid the entry fee at the Kangra bypass.
The police official said Jawalamukhi was a different police station from Kangra. This resulted in an argument and the pilgrims raised slogans and held a protest which affected the vehicular traffic on the Kangra-Shimla and Jawalamukhi-Dehra roads for some time. Ultimately, the police challaned the vehicle for not using the seat belt, not having a first aid box and not wearing the uniform.
Senior police officers said there was no entry fee to be charged by the police and if such things were taking place these would be looked into.