15,696 devotees pay obeisance at holy cave

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 11:  On the 14th day of ongoing Amarnath yatra, 15,696 pilgrims paid obeisance at holy cave of Swami Amarnath situated in deep Himalayas in South Kashmir district of Aantnag taking the total to 1,33,481 yatris who performed darshan of Ice Lingam since the two -month long yatra started on June 28.
According to officials on yatra duty after remaining disturbed during some days since June 28 due to inclement weather, land slides and shooting stones blocking the Baltal track, the yatra has been going on smoothly on both the tracks for last three days.
A Police officer on yatra duty said that 5000 pilgrims left for holy cave from Baltal this morning while the equal number of pilgrims left for Srinagar from base camp of Baltal after performing darshan at cave shrine today.
He said about 6000 pilgrims are camping at Baltal at present. There is a heavy rush of pilgrims and yatra is going on smoothly, he added.
The officer said that 4000 pilgrims from Nunwan-Pahalgam base camp left for holy cave this morning while the yatris camping at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panjtarni transit camps also left for their onwards sojourn this morning.
He said the yatra on this track is also going smoothly and the weather remained pleasant on both the yatra tracks today. He said 800 pilgrims returned to Jammu from Pahalgam today after performing darshan and 3000 yatris are camping for night at Pahalgam.
Meanwhile two pilgrims died of cardiac arrest near the holy cave of Amarnath while another was killed in a road accident in Pulwama district, taking the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage to 21.
A private vehicle, carrying Amarnath pilgrims, collided with a school bus at Padgampora in the Awantipora area, resulting in death of one woman pilgrim, a police official said.
He said she was identified as Savita, a resident of Jaipur, Rajasthan.
A pilgrim, identified as Mahinder Pal, fell unconscious last night at Kali Mata track and later died, the official said.
G Koteshwara, a 70-year-old pilgrim from Andhra Pradesh, died due to cardiac arrest at the holy cave yesterday, he said.
With these, the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage — which began on June 28 — has gone up to 21, he added.
The 10th batch of 4943 pilgrims left for Amarnath from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas early this morning under multiple security measures. Till date 45,878 pilgrims have left from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas for holy cave. These yatris were on way to the Baltal and Nunwan base camps till last reports came in.
According to Arun Manhas, Nodal Officer for Yatra over 4000 yatris are camping in Jammu. Out of them 2200 are in Yatri Niwas and Aasa ram Bapu Ashram while others are in lodges and community centers.
He said 2400 pilgrims were registered today at three registration counters at Jammu.
Manhas said that the rush at registration counters yesterday was result of suspension of yatra for some days due to inclement weather and land slides on yatra track. He said due to heavy rains in the morning yesterday the yatris were asked to enter inside the registration counters at Saraswati and Vaishnavi Dhams which resulted in heavy rush inside. But now the rush has reduced as large number of stranded pilgrims left for holy cave yesterday and today, he added
He said to overcome the heavy rush the registration was done up to late night hours yesterday.
Meanwhile Governor, N.N. Vohra, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, (SASB) reviewed the ongoing yatra in a meeting attended by Umang Narula, Chief Executive Officer, SASB, Bhupinder Kumar, Additional CEO, SASB and other officers of the Shrine Board.
Umang Narula informed that consequent to the continuous spell of rains which disturbed the yatra during the first three days and, later,  on 4th and 5th of July which caused serious damage to the Baltal-holy cave track, restoration work was taken up on war footing and the track conditions have been improved to enable the movement of Yatris on the Baltal-holy cave route. He informed the Governor that mesh fencing and other protection works have been taken up jointly by PWD and BRO to address the problem of shooting stones at vulnerable stretches of the track.
He also informed that the lighting arrangements on the Baltal-holy cave route have been augmented to facilitate the movement of yatris. Teams of NDRF and SDRF have been deployed at various vulnerable and critical stretches along the track to assist any yatri in distress. He further informed that cut-off timings have been revised to ensure effective utilization of day light hours for the movement of the yatris. This has allowed yatris to safely return to the base camps before night fall. The recently installed micro ATM at Panjtarni has further eased the cash related problems of the yatris, he added.
He said on-spot registration facility is being provided to all unregistered yatris at Jammu and Srinagar.
Governor Vohra has reiterated his directions that all concerned agencies must be kept in state of readiness and status of ground conditions should be reviewed on a daily basis to immediately address any arising problem.