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Amarnath Yatra: Unfazed by looming terror threat, hundreds of pilgrims arrive in Jammu

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By: Anil Bhatt

Jammu: Chants of “Bam Bam Bhole” and “Jai Barfani Baba ki” rented the air as hundreds of enthusiastic pilgrims unperturbed by the looming terror threat arrived at the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here amid tight security on Tuesday to set out on a journey to cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas on Wednesday.

The devotees said their unflinching faith in Lord Shiva and the security forces has encouraged them to be part of the annual Amarnath Yatra that is being organised this year after a gap of two years on account of the Covid pandemic.

The first batch of pilgrims will leave the Jammu base camp on Wednesday, officials said.

Multi-tier security has been put in place in and around the base camp, lodging centres, and registration and token centres amid deployment of over 5,000 security personnel in Jammu city, the officials said.

“Na chinta na bhay, Baba Amarnath ji kee jai (Neither worry nor fear, as Baba Amarnath Ji with us),” said Vinay Kumar, who was part of 12-member group from Lucknow that arrived here for onward journey to cave shrine of Amarnath in the first batch on Wednesday.

Lauding the authorities for the “best possible arrangements”, Kumar, said, “We have full faith in Lord Shiva and our security forces”.

The group members have completed their registration and got tokens from Vaishnavi Dham near railway station for their journey to cave shrine in the first batch.

“Facilities are very good and the registration process is also smooth. We are very happy with the arrangements,” Kumar said.

A Bengaluru resident, Upmita, who is here with seven other members of her family, said their fear disappeared soon after reaching the base camp.

Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) is pulling out all the stops to ensure smooth pilgrimage, scheduled to begin on June 30 from Kashmir, to the holy cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice-lingam in south Kashmir Himalayas.

Over 3,000 pilgrims have arrived in Jammu and have been housed in base camp and various lodging centres, the officials said, adding that about 400 ‘sadhus’ have also arrived in Ram Mandir camp for the yatra.

The first batch of pilgrims, including sadhus, will leave for the twin base camps of Kashmir a day ahead of the official commencement of the yatra which will culminate, according to tradition, on the day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival on August 11.

The yatra will commence on June 30 from twin routes – traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal.

The scene in and around the base camp, lodging centres, registration and token counters was upbeat on Tuesday.

“We have been paying obeisance at the cave shrine regularly for the past 15 years. This year too, I am going to seek peace and prosperity for the mankind,” said Kartikeswar Ram, who hails from South India.

“Brotherhood and communal harmony need to be maintained at all costs to make this earth a better place to live in. This yatra is famous for communal harmony,” he said.

Around three lakh pilgrims have registered so far for the annual Amarnath Yatra, the officials said. (PTI)

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