Yatris begin to return without Darshan; 23,000 stranded at Baltal


Jammu and Kashmir News

JAMMU, July 16 :  Due to the turmoil in the entire valley after the killing of Hizb Commander, thousands of yatris remain stranded at the base station in Baltal and other places in the State, beginning from the state border at Lakhanpur to Banihal as the annual Amarnath Yatra remains suspended for the third consecutive day. No pilgrim was allowed to leave for the Holy Cave from any of these stations.

As per the official figures, around 23,000 pilgrims are marooned at Baltal base camp. Since no more yatris are allowed to leave from Jammu, in view of the unrest in valley, the stranded yatris are facing troubles making it back to Jammu. In addition, over 800 pilgrims, who were stranded at Nunwan Pahalgam for the last one week were allowed to leave for Jammu a day ago.
Only 9,179 pilgrims performed darshan at Holy Cave by Thursday evening and then moved back to Baltal. With this, the total number of pilgrims paying obeisance to Ice Lingam in cave shrine during last 14 days of yatra has touched 1,64,499.
Also, 8,479 pilgrims left for holy cave from Baltal late on Friday evening for darshan. The yatra again started late on Friday morning due to heavy downpour on yatra track to holy cave and due to the apprehension of violence after theFriday prayers. However, later on the yatra progressed smoothly.
Provisions to take the stranded yatris back to Jammu are to be carried out under tight security arrangements. However, yatra from traditional Pahalgam route has remained suspended for last one week, after the outbreak of violence in Kashmir following the encounter on July 8th.

Meanwhile, a high level meeting of the State administration was also held in Srinagar on Friday evening in order to take decisions regarding transportation of stranded yatris from Baltal to Jammu as heavy influx of pilgrims at base camp has added to many problems. The base camp of Nunwan -Pahalgam looked deserted since no yatri has been camping there since Thursday, after the authorities shifted all stranded pilgrims to Jammu late at night.
The only people camping there are the Jawans of security forces, police and government officials.
Thousands of Yatris were stopped at various places on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, and are required to remain still until the Administration takes any decision on the situation.
About 2000 pilgrims are stranded at the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu while a large number of pilgrims are stranded in Aasa Ram Bapu Ashram, Saraswati Dham, Kalika Dham, Vaishnavi Dham and other community halls in Jammu as well as Ashrams and langars on NH right from Lakhanpur to  Vijaypur. The grounded yatris even protested demanding resumption of the Holy Yatra. They raised slogans and criticized the Government for their inability to handle the agitation going on in valley.
The yatris deserted at Udhampur cursed the administration’s decision to suspend yatra. Some of the pilgrims are staying at dhaba’s while others are forced to live in the buses waiting for resumption of yatra.
Meanwhile, heavy rush of pilgrims has continued despite the disturbance. Thousands of Shiva Devotees are reaching Jammu daily from other parts of the country for Barfani Baba’s darshan. Hundreds of yatris are still seen in long queues waiting for their registration at various registration counter.


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