Yatra remains suspended for 2nd day; over 30,000 pilgrims stranded

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 5:  Yatra to holy cave of Swami Amarnath remained suspended on both Baltal as well as Pahalgam tracks for the second consecutive day today due to continuous rains in the yatra area followed by landslides and shooting stones between Railpathri and Brarimarg on Baltal track.
As thousands of pilgrims are stranded at both the base camps of Baltal and Nunwan- Pahalgam, the yatra to Kashmir valley was also suspended from Jammu today and no pilgrim vehicle was allowed to leave from here towards base camps of Nunwan-Pahalgam and Baltal.
However, limited helicopter services functioned on both the routes. On the 8th day of the ongoing Amarnathji yatra, 7,450 yatris paid obeisance today and till date 68,202 yatris had darshan of the Shivling at the holy cave since the yatra started on June 28.  In view of the incidence of falling stones, landslides and accumulation of yatris at both the base camps, Nunwan and Baltal, CEO Shrine Board announced  that yatra from Jammu will also remain suspended for second day tomorrow. He advised yatris to make their plans accordingly.

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In view of the large number of Yatris who are held  up at Baltal, Nunwan, Sheshnag and Panjtarni camps because of bad weather, landslides and shooting stones, Governor, N N Vohra who is also Chairman of the Shrine Board, will visit these camps tomorrow to ascertain the situation there.
The Governor has cancelled his scheduled visit to Jammu tomorrow in view of his visit to yatra camps. It was the first visit of Vohra to Jammu after imposition of Governor’s rule in the State.
A police officer on yatra duty said that there are about 24,000 stranded pilgrims at Baltal base camp waiting for darshan of holy cave for last two days. He said it was raining in the yatra area today also and weather was overcast with clouds.
He said in case the weather improves the yatris will be allowed to leave for darshan early tomorrow morning. However, all pilgrims are safe and sound as the authorities have made elaborate arrangements for them at base camps.
Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Mohammed Younis Malik who is also the Yatra Officer told Excelsior that 6234 pilgrims are camping at Nunwan base camp. He said authorities have made elaborate arrangements including that of security for the pilgrims.
He said in case the weather improves the yatra will be allowed to leave for holy cave early tomorrow morning to clear the rush at Nunwan base camp. Besides, the base camp, over 2000 pilgrims were camping at hotels and lodges in Pahalgam.
A police officer said that hundreds of pilgrims are also camping at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni transit camps.
Meanwhile, about 2000 Amarnath bound pilgrims who had opted Pahalgam track yesterday were halted at Udhampur in view of heavy rush and bad weather conditions in Kashmir valley. These pilgrims were allowed to leave ahead in the morning but were stopped at Ramban by the authorities in the afternoon. They were shifted to community centers and different lodges for the night, said Arun Manhas Nodal Officer, Amarnath Yatra, Jammu.
He said these yatris will leave for further sojourn tomorrow provided the weather improves.
As Yatra remained suspended at Jammu also, there is a heavy rush of stranded pilgrims in the winter capital. Manhas said about 9000 pilgrims are staying in Jammu at various places including lodges, community halls, Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas and Aasa Ram Bapu Ashram.
He said 2800 pilgrims are alone staying at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas and nearby Aasa Ram Bapu Ashram.  The stranded yatris while appreciating the arrangements made by the authorities however, said that due to suspension of yatra for days together they will be put to problems as they can’t keep the date of return journey as per their schedule train reservations made by them earlier.