Sunday, July 3, 2011

85,000 perform Amarnath Yatra

Yatra to remain suspended from Jammu for 2nd day today Over 85,000 perform darshan in 4 days

A total number of 24,560 devotees performed darshan in holy cave of Swami Amarnath Ji today as the yatra was restored from Baltal track after remaining suspended yesterday.

As there was no improvement in the weather conditions the yatra will continue to remain suspended for second consecutive day tomorrow from Jammu to Kashmir valley, an official spokesman said. Earlier authorities had suspended yatra from Jammu today in view of heavy downpour at the holy cave yesterday.

According to reports, thousands of yatris are camping at Nunwan-Pahalgam base camp in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir.

A police officer, Incharge yatra, said that 9,856 pilgrims left Nunwan base camp early in the morning for next transit camp while 12, 625 left Baltal to holy cave early this morning.

He said 24,560 pilgrims performed darshan at holy cave today while 60,944 pilgrims had performed darshan till yesterday. With this a total number of 85,504 pilgrims have paid their obeisance in the holy cave since first day of darshan on June 29.

The spokesman said that weather was pleasant in Nunwan and Chandanwari for the day but it drizzled for over half an hour this evening.

The spokesman said that there is a heavy rush of pilgrims as thousands of yatris are camping in the transit camps of Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni on traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari track while thousands of yatris also reached the two base camps of Nunwan and Baltal today for darshan of Ice Shivlingam.

This has created a problem for the authorities and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) as well, spokesman said, adding that 30,000 to 40,000 pilgrims can't be accommodated on two tracks daily.

He said to avert any eventuality in view of heavy rush and inclement weather, the authorities decided to suspend the yatra from Jammu today. Despite the inclement weather and heavy down pour, the unabated rush of pilgrims continued as thousands of yatris are crossing the Lakhanpur daily for their onwards sojourn to holy cave.

Meanwhile, chaos prevailed at various places on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to stoppage of Amarnath bound pilgrims by the police. The traffic jams were witnessed for hours together at National Highway at Domel, Tikri and other places after the police did not allow the vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims to proceed towards Kashmir Valley resulting in sharp criticism from other commuters and tourists visiting the Valley.

Sunil Kumar, who along with his family was traveling for sight seeing in Kashmir Valley to enjoy the summer vacation at a Hill resort, said that he was put to lot of trouble after the police denied permission to his car to proceed further.

Same were the complaints from other tourists also who were wary of the administration for stopping all the commuters under the garb of unregistered yatris. "Had we been knowing that there will be such a problem in visiting Kashmir to spend the summer holidays we would have preferred to visit the hill stations in Himachal or Uttrakhand’’ said Kumar.

The authorities have also drawn a flak from the registered yatris who too were made to suffer for checking the unregistered yatris on National Highway.

‘‘There is no proper system adopted by the authorities and police in checking’’ said Raman Khullar, a pilgrim from Haryana. ‘‘If Government has established a police information booth at Kunjwani why it didn't stop the yatra at that very point and why the pilgrims are allowed to take the Kunjwani by-pass for Srinagar,’’ he asked?

There is total chaos on National Highway due to lack of proper facilities for the boarding and lodging of yatris, he said, adding authorities have failed to make arrangements to tackle this huge rush.

Police also resorted to mild lathicharge near Patnitop on pilgrims who were adamant to proceed towards Kashmir Valley.

Meanwhile over 5,000 yatris were stranded in Jammu city. There is heavy rush in Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas and many yatris were camping on road said while others have taken shelter in adjoining residential houses due to lack of accommodation facilities inside the Yatri Niwas forcing the pilgrims to lodge protest against the authorities, sources said.

Meanwhile, three more pilgrims died on way to holy cave today due to cardiac arrest. They have been identified as Arvind Kumar son of Vikram Singh of Ghaziabad UP, Bhagwati Devi Wife of Udaha Prashad of Lucknow and Raghunath son of Radha Krishan of Ahmed Nagar Maharashtra.

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