First batch of Amarnath yatris leaves today

‘No unregistered pilgrim to be allowed’

Avtar Bhat

Amarnath pilgrims taking a nap at a parapet at Bhagwati Nagar base camp due to lack of proper arrangements on Saturday. (Another pic on page 4)	-Excelsior/Rakesh
Amarnath pilgrims taking a nap at a parapet at Bhagwati Nagar base camp due to lack of proper arrangements on Saturday. (Another pic on page 4) -Excelsior/Rakesh

JAMMU, June 23: The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims will leave for Holy Cave in deep Himalayas of Lidder Valley in Kashmir from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here early tomorrow morning.
The first batch of yatra will be flagged of by Minister of Tourism and Culture Nawang Rigzin Jora at 5am in the morning.
The administration has made all arrangements for the yatris at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas, which is the base camp of annual Amarnath pilgrimage, said Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Pardeep Gupta.
He said all arrangements for yatris are complete. Besides boarding and lodging, arrangements for sanitation and water supply have been fully made in the base camp.
He said the yatra will be flagged off by Mr Jora in presence of senior civil, police officers and prominent citizens.
Meanwhile, the Tourism Department has also made elaborate arrangements for transportation of pilgrims also.
To avert any untoward incident, the foolproof security arrangements have been made for the pilgrims in the base camp as well as other community halls were the pilgrims are putting up, an official spokesman said.
A big pose of paramilitary forces, including jawans of J&K Police were deployed at Base Camp for security of the pilgrims.
Tight and foolproof security arrangements have also been made on National Highway right from Lakhanpur to Baltal and Nunwan camps for the yatris. 100 companies of para military forces and police have been deployed to man the National Highway and the two tracks from Baltal to Holy Cave and Nunwan to cave shrine besides other places.
Besides the Army has been deployed at Holy Cave. Out of 100 companies, 74 companies of para military forces, have been dispatched by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), as additional reinforcement, while rest was the local mobilization.
A spokesman of the Shrine Board said that on June 25 the yatris will be welcomed by Mr Jora and MOS Home Nasir Aslam Wani at Nunwan in presence of Governor and chairman of Shrine Board N N Vohra. They will also flag off the air service to holy cave. Yatris will simultaneously be welcomed at Baltal by Minister of Forests Mian Altaf on the same day and he will also inaugurate the flight to Holy Cave from Baltal, he added.
He said the inaugural pooja in the Holy Cave will be performed by Governor, N N Vohra on the first day of darshan i.e June 25.
Meanwhile, the administration has issued an advisory to yatris asking them that no registered pilgrims will be allowed to proceed towards the Srinagar ahead of his scheduled registration date.
In a handout issued here today, the administration appealed  to the yatris to report to the base camp at Bhagwati Nagar here only 2-3 days in advance of their scheduled registration date.
An official spokesman of the Shrine Board said that the tracks on both sides of the cave are through for the pilgrims and all arrangements are in place on all the camps enroute to holy cave.
Railways Police and Civil Defence/Home Guards today gave a final touch to arrangements of Shri Amarnath ji yatra.
SSP Railways Jammu Shiv Kumar Sharma said all security and other arrangements have been made for the pilgrims, who started reaching here in large number from different parts of the country. A special 24 hour counter has been set up at Railway Station to guide the pilgrims, he said, adding that an officer would man the counter.
The pilgrims would be guided properly on their onward journey to Shri Amarnath ji shrine, Mr Sharma said.
He added that security arrangements all along the railway track from Lakhanpur to Jammu and Udhampur have been made.
Meanwhile, Civil Defence and Home Guards have also geared up their volunteers to guide Amarnath pilgrims at various places, DySP Civil Defence/Home Guards, Dushyant Sharma said.