Over 20,000 perform darshan on Day 20; yatra crosses 2.5 lakh

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 20: Over 20,000 pilgrims today paid obeisance at holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath Ji as the yatra crossed 2.5 lakh mark on 20th day while a pilgrim from Muradabad in Uttar Pradesh died in the cave area due to cardiac arrest.
Official sources told the Excelsior that 20915 pilgrims performed darshan of naturally formed Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva at Shri Amarnath Ji shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas during the day today.
With today’s darshan, total of 2,59,889 yatris have offered prayers at the cave shrine since July 1 when the 46-day long pilgrimage began. It will conclude on August 15 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan.
Of 20,915 yatris, who performed darshan today, there were 14,811 males, 5646 females, 358 security personnel and 100 Sadhus.
A 26-year old pilgrim Arvind Bhardwaj of Muradabad, Uttar Pradesh died of cardiac arrest in the cave shrine area. His body has been shifted to Baltal base camp.
Meanwhile, an Amarnath pilgrim was found dead today in a bus at General Bus Stand.
“A man identified as Ganesh (35) of Maharashtra was found dead in a bus which reached General Bus Stand, Jammu today at about 7 am,” a police official said, adding he along with another person was scheduled to go to Shri Amarnath shrine to pay obeisance.
The official said that the body of the deceased was shifted to mortuary room of GMC Jammu and his family in Maharashtra was informed while inquest proceedings under 174 CrPC were initiated in this connection at police station Bus Stand. “Prima facie, it appears that he died of cardiac arrest,” he added.
Six persons have died in the past four days during the ongoing pilgrimage to Amarnath cave, taking the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage to 22, officials said today.
“Six pilgrims died due to various causes during their pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath Ji,” the officials said here.
Among the dead are 18 pilgrims, two ‘sevadars’ (volunteers) and two security force personnel deployed on duty en route the holy cave.
In addition to these, 30 others have suffered injuries due to shooting stones and other causes since the commencement of the pilgrimage on July 1, the officials said.
Deaths due to cardiac arrest triggered by lack of oxygen in the area around the cave shrine have been common over the years, prompting the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to issue regular health advisories to the pilgrims.
All pilgrims are required to get a fitness certificate issued from a doctor before undertaking the pilgrimage to the shrine located at an altitude of 3,888 metres.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 4,094 pilgrims including 955 women and 144 sadhus left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here this morning to pay obeisance at the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Amarnath Ji.
The latest batch, which also included 20 children, left in a fleet of 175 vehicles under tight security arrangements from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in the early hours today.
The yatra is going on smoothly from both the tracks-traditional 36-km Pahalgam and shorter 14-km Baltal route, the officials said, adding the yatra resumed from Baltal route today morning after the upward movement was suspended yesterday due to rain and slippery track conditions.