1287 pilgrims pay obeisance at Amarnath shrine

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, June 29: Though yatra to holy cave remained suspended for the second consecutive day today, a nearly 1,300 pilgrims paid obeisance at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath ji in South Kashmir Himalayas.
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According to officials, at the close of second day of the darshan today, 1,287 pilgrims paid obeisance at holy cave by this evening.
However, yatra from both Baltal and Pahalgam tracks to the holy cave remained suspended for the day due to heavy rainfall and slippery tracks.
Officials confirmed that the Amarnath track via Baltal was damaged at various places which forced the administration to suspend the yatra from this track to avert any untoward incident.
Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Piyush Singla told Excelsior that due to bad weather and heavy rainfall which damaged the Baltal-holy cave track at various places the yatra was suspended today.
He said if weather improves, the yatra will be allowed to leave for holy cave via this track tomorrow morning.
He said over 10,000 yatris are stranded at Baltal base camp where there is capacity of sheltering about 15,000 pilgrims. There are all arrangements at Baltal for boarding and lodging of stranded pilgrims, he added.
Besides, the arrangements have also fully been made at transit camp of Manigam Kangan for pilgrims, he added.
Official sources said that about 4000 pilgrims returned to Srinagar from Baltal yesterday evening due to heavy rainfall and suspension of Yatra.
A police official said the Kali Mata track was damaged due to slides at multiple places, which forced suspension of the yatra from Baltal route.
The restoration work is going on but a slight drizzle is hampering the efforts, the official said.
Sources said about 9000 pilgrims are also camping at Pahalgam, Nunwan base camp, Chandanwari and Sheshnag today as the yatra was not allowed to proceed further.
Early in the morning Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Mohammed Younis Malik, who is also the Yatra Officer flagged off 631 pilgrims from Nunwan to Chandanwari while some 2000 pilgrims staying in hotels and lodges at Pahalgam also left for their onwards sojourn to holy cave in the morning. But after it rained heavily, majority of them returned to Pahalgam while some stayed at Chandanwari.
The DC Anantnag said that 1200 pilgrims have reached Sheshnag safely and they are camping there.
He said if weather improves the yatra will be allowed to proceed further tomorrow.
“At the end of the second day of the darshan, 1,287 pilgrims paid obeisance at holy cave,” he added.
The total number of pilgrims who have performed darshan of the naturally formed ice-lingam has now gone up to 2,294. Yesterday, 1007 pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine.
Meanwhile, over 2,000 Amarnath pilgrims, who were part of the third batch, were today left stranded on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway as heavy rains triggered landslides at several places, disrupting smooth flow of traffic on the hilly road, officials said.
Braving heavy rains, the third batch of 2,876 pilgrims, including 544 women, left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here for Kashmir early today in a convoy under tight security cover to pay obeisance at the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath ji, but faced frequent stoppage due to blocking of the 260-km Highway by landslides, they said.
Though timely action by the concerned authorities ensured removal of hurdles and reopening of the Highway –the authorities stopped part of the convoy in Udhampur district as a precautionary measure, the officials said.
They said 844 pilgrims, including 229 women, traveling in 29 vehicles for the Baltal base camp, crossed the Jawahar Tunnel –and were halted at Qazigund in Kulgam district.
However, all the 2,032 pilgrims, including 315 women, who have opted for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam route, traveling in 61 vehicles were stopped in Udhampur district and would proceed towards their destination tomorrow morning provided the road is traffic worthy, the officials said.
SSP Udhampur, Rayees Ahmed Bhat confirmed that the yatris on way to holy cave via Pahalgam track were stopped at various places in Udhampur.
Adequate arrangements have been made for the stranded passengers by the district administration, he said.
No ‘sadhus’ and children were part of the third batch, the officials said.
The officials said that the authorities are monitoring the weather situation and a decision to allow the fourth batch of pilgrims from the base camp here would be taken accordingly.
DC Jammu, Rajeev Ranjan said that fourth batch will be allowed tomorrow to proceed for holy cave only in case weather improves and stranded pilgrims from Baltal and Nunwan are allowed to head towards next destination.
He said so far the authorities have not received any information about the suspension of yatra from Jammu tomorrow.
The DC said about 4000 pilgrims are camping in Jammu. Out of them, 1500 are camping in Bhagwati Nagar base camp while others are in different community halls and lodges, he added.
He said all arrangements for their lodging and boarding have been made.
Sources said 15,00 pilgrims crossed Lakhanpur from rest of country to Jammu by this evening.
Meanwhile, a BSF officer, posted on Amarnath yatra duty along the traditional Pahalgam route, died last night after complaining of chest pain, police said today.
Assistant Sub Inspector, Hardayal Singh of BSF’s 182nd Battalion, posted on yatra duty at Betab Valley in Pahalgam, complained of chest pain around 11 pm yesterday and was taken to the local Sub District Hospital, a police official said.
He said 54-year-old Singh was referred to SKIMS Hospital at Soura for treatment but declared ‘dead on arrival’ by the doctors.
It may be recalled that the two month-long Amarnath yatra which began yesterday, will conclude on August 26 to coincide with Raksha Bandhan and Shravan Purnima festivals.


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