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Amaranth Yatra begins from twin routes of Baltal and Pahalgam

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Security in place for Yatra; no cause for worry: Governor

Srinagar,  Jun 28: The annual Amaranth Yatra to 3,880-metre high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas started from both Baltal and Pahalgam routes today after delay of several hours due to heavy rain in the morning.

Governor N N Vohra, who also the Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), along-with CEO of the Board, senior Army, Police, Central Police and Civil administration officers, paid obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum and participated in the ‘Pratham Pooja’ ceremony. He prayed for sustained peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the state, a spokesperson of the SASB said. .

“The Yatra began from Baltal base camp as the first batch of pilgrims made their way towards the holy cave,” the spokesperson said, adding the Yatra also commenced from the traditional Pahalgam route as 59 pilgrims from Chandanwari were allowed to proceed towards the cave shrine.

Heavy rainfall in the morning delayed commencement of annual Amaranth Yatra.

On his visit to the shrine, the Governor rapidly reviewed the arrangements made for the pilgrims at the shrine camp and conveyed the SSASB’s appreciation to the Army, Central paramilitary forces, Police and Civil officers and those from all the other concerned agencies for their strong involvement in the conduct of the Yatra.

He stressed on the Camp directors and all the functionaries involved in the management of the Yatra the need for effective supervision and round the clock monitoring for ensuring the smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.

Vohra also said all arrangements have been made for the security of two-month-long pilgrimage and there is no cause for any worry.

Vohra’s comments came amidst “biggest-ever” security blanket thrown to secure pilgrims undertaking the Amarnath pilgrimage which began today.

“I want to give a message and assurance that all security arrangements have been made for Amarnath Yatra. There is no cause for worry for the pilgrims,” he said after offering prayers at the cave shrine here, located at an altitude of 12,756 feet.

Amid tight security, the first batch of nearly 3,000 Amarnath pilgrims from Jammu reached the twin base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam in Kashmir last evening.

After getting road clearance, the second batch of 3,434 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu in the early hours today, officials said, adding they are expected to reach the base camps of Nunwan-Pahalgam and Baltal in the valley later in the day.

Over two lakh pilgrims have so far registered for the 60-day Yatra which is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival.

A total of 2.60 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the shrine last year.

The government is for the first time using radio frequency (RF) tags to track Amarnath-bound vehicles, while the CRPF has introduced motorcycle squads with cameras and various life-saving equipment.

The security has been heightened for this year’s Yatra in view of the militant attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims last year that left eight of them dead and 18 others injured.

Around 40,000 security personnel from the Jammu and Kashmir Police, paramilitary forces, National Disaster Response Force and the Army, have been deployed for this year’s pilgrimage.

Considering the carrying capacity of the existing tracks and other available infrastructure in the pilgrimage area, the SASB has decided to allow 7, 500 pilgrims on each route daily.

While the pilgrims performing the Yatra via shorter Baltal route usually return to the base camp within a day, those taking the traditional Pahalgam route have to trek 42 kms, with an overnight stay at one of the halting stations before they can pay obeisance at the cave shrine.

Meanwhile, on the first day of the Yatra, 1007 pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine by the evening, officials said.

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