Press Trust of India

Amarnath pilgrims stranded at Baltal, Pahalgam seek evacuation

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Srinagar: Amarnath pilgrims stranded at the twin base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam following the suspension of the Yatra due to inclement weather have urged authorities to evacuate them.

The yatra was suspended on Friday following widespread rain and landslides, particularly along the twin tracks — the traditional 48-kilometre Pahalgam route in Anantnag district and the 14-kilometre Baltal route in Ganderbal district.

Nearly 50,000 pilgrims are put up at various base camps in Kashmir valley with almost 19,000 at Baltal base camp in the Ganderbal district.

Ronali Shah said she has been stuck at Panjtarni base camp since Thursday noon. “We reached here three days ago at 4 pm. Despite the sunny weather, the helicopter services operator did not fly us down to Pahalgam” Shah said.

She even urged authorities to change the private helicopter service provider that flew stranded pilgrims from the Panjtarni base camp.

“The private helicopter left behind the yatris who had made online bookings while they were taking passengers who had booked tickets offline,” a man accompanying Shah said.

However, several are determined to wait for the weather to improve and proceed with the yatra thereafter.

Two pilgrims from Punjab said they have been waiting for the rainfall to subside and are praying sincerely so that they can resume their pilgrimage.

Rahul, one of the pilgrims who encountered a landslide near Nathal said he somehow managed to escape and reach the Panthachowk base camp here.

Narendra Kumar, another yatri, said the pilgrims had to face difficulties on the way due to heavy rain, landslides and shooting stones.

“We had to run several kilometres to escape the shooting stones. Now we are stuck here at the camp,” Kumar said.

The Met office has predicted widespread moderate to heavy rain, accompanied by thundershowers, under the influence of monsoon winds and western disturbances across Jammu and Kashmir till Sunday.

The 62-day annual pilgrimage to the 3,888-metre-high cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas commenced from the twin tracks of Pahalgam and Baltal on July 1. The yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 31.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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