Yatra remains suspended for 3rd day

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, June 30: With Amarnath yatra remaining suspended for third consecutive day today on both Baltal and Pahalgam tracks, the authorities also suspended the yatra from Jammu today and no vehicle carrying pilgrims was allowed to leave for Kashmir in view of inclement weather and heavy rainfall that lashed the State for last three days.
However, 587 pilgrims left from Baltal to holy cave through chopper today and performed darshan of holy Ice Lingam.

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According to official sources, no yatra was allowed to leave from Baltal base camp as well Nunwan, Pahalgam base camp to holy cave due to heavy rainfall and slippery tracks.
Sources said that the yatris were advised not to proceed further and leave their respective base camps in view of the bad weather conditions in holy cave area right from Pahalgam and Baltal to cave shrine which forced majority of pilgrims camping at Baltal and Nunwan base camps to return to their home States.
Sources said thousands of pilgrims are stranded at Baltal, Nunwan base camps and transit camp of Chandanwari.
However, the stranded yatris at Pahalgam and Baltal intending to return to their home States without performing the darshan are perturbed as they could not leave their stations due to closure of Jammu -Srinagar National Highway for traffic.
“We are totally disturbed due to bad weather conditions”, some pilgrims from Bengaluru, Karnataka camping at Pahalgam told Excelsior.
“We are a group of five people and are waiting here for last three days to leave for the darshan of holy cave and as the rain does not stop and authorities have advised us not to move ahead we have now decided to return to our home State but the closure of NH has increased our worries” they added.
Same were the views of another group of pilgrims from Kolkata, West Bengal. They said “we are in Kashmir since June 25 and since then we could not make it to have the darshan of holy cave though we tried a lot during last five days. “Our budget as well as leave from offices has now exhausted so we have decided to return”.
Official sources said that 5435 pilgrims returned from Baltal to Srinagar today. The majority of pilgrims among them were those who had not performed the darshan.
There are about 9902 pilgrims camping at Baltal as no yatri was allowed to move towards holy cave from there.
Official sources said no yatri was also allowed to leave from Nunwan base camp to holy cave on third consecutive day today.
Sources said 6056 pilgrims were camping at Nunwan Pahalgam base camp by this evening. They included 1641 pilgrims who managed to reach there from Udhampur and other places today.
Meanwhile, the Amarnath Yatra from Jammu was suspended today owing to frequent disruptions caused by heavy rains since the beginning of the annual pilgrimage, while over 2,000 pilgrims who were stranded in Udhampur, left for the Pahalgam base camp this morning, a police officer said.
“The yatra from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here has been suspended. No pilgrim was allowed from here but the stranded convoy at Udhampur, carrying 2,032 pilgrims, including 315 women, left for Pahalgam base camp in South Kashmir this morning,” he said.
The officer said, the decision to suspend the yatra from here was taken in view of inclement weather.
A majority of the pilgrims in the third batch who left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp yesterday were stranded in Udhampur district due to frequent disruption in the flow of traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
While 844 pilgrims, including 229 women, who opted for the 12-km Baltal route were detained at Qazigund last night, 2,032 pilgrims who chose the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track were stopped by the authorities at Tikri and other places in Udhampur as a precautionary measure.
“After getting the road clearance, the pilgrims were allowed to start their journey towards their destination this morning,” the police officer said.
There was an incident of shooting stones at Battery Chashma in Ramban district. Later, the Highway was cleared for traffic.
SSP Ramban Mohan Lal said that the stranded yatra buses at Udhampur and other places were allowed this morning to leave for Nunwan -Pahalgam base camp while the yatri buses which were not part of convoy and had come on their own were stopped at different places in Ramban, Nashri and Banihal.
He said 200 buses carrying yatris and tourists are stationed at Banihal while 600 and 300 pilgrims respectively are camping at Ramban and Nashri respectively. He said authorities have made all arrangements of their boarding and lodging enroute and he himself was monitoring the arrangements at Banihal. These yatris will be allowed to leave early in the morning along with ROP.
A flood alert was sounded in South and Central Kashmir after many parts of the State were lashed by Monsoon rains intermittently since June 27, leaving thousands of pilgrims who have reached the twin base camps of Baltal in Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in Anantnag district stranded.
Officials said over 5,000 pilgrims from various parts of the country had reached Jammu to participate in the yatra.
Adequate arrangements are in place for the pilgrims.
DC Jammu, Rajeev Ranjan said 2250 pilgrims are at Bhagwati Nagar base camp while 2450 are staying in community centres and lodges. He said the yatra was suspended from Jammu this morning due to bad weather and most probably it will be allowed to leave for Kashmir valley tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the yatris who reached Lakhanpur today were taken to various community centres in Kathua as well as Samba districts to avoid heavy rush in Jammu, official sources said. They too will be allowed to leave in case the weather improves tomorrow.
Governor N N Vohra, who is also Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has directed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board Umang Narula that in the prevailing weather conditions the track conditions be closely monitored and got repaired before allowing the movement of Yatris. The concerned agencies should be kept on alert to promptly restore the tracks for the safe movement of Yatris.
The CEO reported that very limited heli services had operated on Neelgrath- Panjtarni Sector today. At the end of the third day of yatra 587 pilgrims paid obeisance at the holy cave. With this a total of over 3500 pilgrims had darshan of the self made Ice Shivlingam in the cave shrine since the commencement of the 60-day-long pilgrimage on June 28.