Press Trust of India

Amarnath Yatra remains suspended from Jammu for 3rd consecutive day

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Jammu: The Amarnath Yatra remained suspended from Jammu for the third consecutive day on Monday due to extensive damage caused to a section of the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in Ramban, officials said.

More than 6,000 pilgrims are stranded in Jammu, particularly at the Bhagwatinagar base camp while over 5,000 are stranded at the Chanderkot base camp in Ramban district.

“The yatra remains suspended from Jammu due to bad condition of the highway. No fresh batch has been allowed to move towards Kashmir from Jammu base camp today,” a senior officer told PTI.

“More pilgrims are arriving in Jammu on their onward journey to Amarnath. But most of them are being accommodated in various lodging centres,” he added.

Some of the pilgrims have been accommodated at the camps in Lakhanpur and Chichi Mata in Kathua and Samba districts to avoid the rush in Jammu, they said.

More than 90,000 pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Amarnath, while over 40,000 devotees left Jammu for Kashmir in seven batches before the suspension of the yatra on Saturday.

Authorities said incessant rains on Saturday and Sunday caused unprecedented damage to the highway, especially a stretch in Ramban district, forcing its closure.

In view of the ongoing restoration works, especially at Panthyal and Seri, no vehicular movement shall be allowed on the highway on Monday, a traffic police official said.

Efforts are being made to restore the movement of traffic at the earliest. An update will be shared in the evening, he said.

The yatris will only be asked to resume their pilgrimage once vehicular traffic between Jammu and Kashmir divisions is restored, they added.

“The traffic shall remain suspended on Monday. People are advised to avoid travelling on the highway till the time confirmation is issued by the administration,” a traffic official said.

Heavy motor vehicles are advised to take the Mughal Road for the journey from Jammu to Srinagar and vice-versa, he said.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner Ramesh Kumar along with the deputy commissioners are monitoring the situation, officials said, adding all possible steps are being taken to ensure that those stranded do not face any hassles.

On Sunday, the Amarnath yatra resumed from Panjtarni and Sheshnag base camps after remaining suspended for three days due to inclement weather in Kashmir, officials said.

Meanwhile, the pilgrims remain undeterred and optimistic about visiting the holy cave shrine even if it means waiting for days.

“Our spirits are high. We are willing to wait for ten more days if needed, but we refuse to return home without performing darshan of the ice-lingam of Lord Shiva at Amarnath,” said Pramodh Gupta, a devotee from Punjab told PTI here.

Gupta added that despite facing challenges with accommodation and other facilities, their group of 29 is eagerly waiting for the administration’s approval to resume their journey to Kashmir.

Shobha Devi from Meerut echoed similar sentiments and expressed dissatisfaction with the facilities due to the heavy influx of pilgrims from outside the country.

“We are facing various problems with accommodation. There is water shortage here and the administration should address the issue,” she said.

However, Shobha added that she and her group would only return home after completing their pilgrimage.

“We will leave only after completing the yatra to Amarnath. Barfani Baba will help us fulfill our wish,” she affirmed.

“Weather conditions will not deter us from going to Amarnath. We pray to Lord Shiva to improve the weather so that we can start the yatra and have Bholey Baba’s darshan,” said Meenakshi Verma, a devotee from Punjab.

Sunita Saini from Punjab’s Jalandhar, who has been stranded in Jammu for the past five days, said, “We are waiting for the weather to clear up and the highway to reopen. We are optimistic about leaving for Amarnath.”

There is a huge rush for accomodation in Jammu as most of 33 lodging places and the base camp is full to its capacity. Even the parking area of Jammu base camp is full with buses carrying pilgrims who are cooking food there.

Around 200 to 300 sadhus are also camping at the base camp’s Ram temple for the past one week.

The 62-day annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine, located at an altitude of 3,888 meters in the South Kashmir Himalayas, began on July 1. Since June 30, a total of 43,833 pilgrims have departed from the Jammu base camp in seven batches, following the flag-off by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

The pilgrimage is scheduled to conclude on August 31, and so far, over 93,000 pilgrims have paid their respects at the sacred Amarnath cave shrine.

Press Trust of India

Press Trust of India is lead news agency of India

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