Despite terror attack, devotees rush to Amarnath cave continues unabated
Nearly 1.7 lakh perform yatra in 15-days
NEW DELHI July 13 :Despite Monday’s terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag district, the rush of devotees has continued unabated as fresh batch of 3500 yatries left Jammu for the Valley to perform darshan the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas on Thursday.
“A fresh batch of 3,500 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 153 vehicles at 3.25 am,” an official spokesperson said and added nearly 1.70 lakh devotees 1 have reached the cave shrine located at 3,888 metres above sea-level, in the first 15-days of the yatra.
In the wake of Anantnag terror attack, in which seven pilgrims, including five women, were killed and 19 others injured, night-long road opening parties (ROPs) have been deployed on Yatra routes to protect the pilgrims. The step has been taken to ensure that militants don’t get a chance to target the pilgrims who by chance move after the deadline of 7 pm, when usually the ROPs were withdrawn, DECCAN HERALD reported.
The bus which was attacked on Monday at around 8.25 pm, had missed the deadline due to a flat tyre issue. A senior police official said security forces are having a tough time regulating the pilgrims as many violate the security protocols. “The yatris travel on their own without adhering to the security guidelines that leave them vulnerable to militant attacks. It was in this backdrop that authorities decided to deploy the security during the night also,” he said.
As per the guidelines issued by the police and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), yatries have to proceed in a convoy from the base camp in Jammu from two routes – Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. “The pilgrims travel in hired vehicles and also by air to Srinagar. They tell us that they want to visit tourist areas of Sonamarg or Ladakh and don’t want to proceed along with the escort,” the official revealed.
The 40-day long Yatra to the south Himalayan cave shrine started on June 29 and will end on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.
Meanwhile, a pilgrim suffered cardiac arrest on way to the cave shrine on Thursday taking the total death total due to natural causes to 17 so far.EOM