The 40-day long Amarnath Yatra concluded on Monday after as many as 2.6 lakh pilgrims made the pilgrimage to offer prayers at the Amarnath Shrine in south Kashmir’s Himalayan region. The yatra this year was hit by terror attack and a tragic bus accident.
This year’s figure of pilgrims visiting the shrine is the second lowest in the past 14 years. Last year, only 2.20 lakh pilgrims had visited the cave shrine due to the summer unrest
After special prayers and other rituals, the saffron-robed holy mace was taken to Chandanwari yesterday and will reach the holy cave for final prayers on August 7 after night halts en route to Sheshnag and Panjtarni, marking the conclusion of the 40-day yatra on the occasion of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.
“Today, on the 36th day of the yatra, 813 pilgrims paid obeisance at the Holy Cave and cumulatively, since the beginning of the pilgrimage, 2,57,589 yatris have had darshan”, an official spokesman said.
Meanwhile, 200 pilgrims, including 20 women, also left Jammu for Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas on Saturday. With this 29th batch, a total of 68,499 pilgrims have left Jammu for Amarnath since the yatra began from here on June 28.
“From 1990 till date, 36 terrorist attacks have been reported on Amarnath yatris in which 53 were killed and 167 were injured,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir informed Lok Sabha on Tuesday
Escorted by the CRPF and police, the batch comprising 454 males, 125 females plus 99 sadhus and sadhvis left in a convoy of 24 vehicles for Baltal and Pahalgam base-camps this morning,officials said. In July 10, a bus carrying pilgrims in the Anantnag district was attacked by terrorists.
The death toll of pilgrims due to natural causes this year has risen to 20. While eight pilgrims were killed in the militant attack on a bus of yatris on 10 July, 20 other pilgrims have died in various road accidents.
The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer.
Undeterred by the recent terror attack, more than 4,000 pilgrims left for the Amarnath cave shrine from Jammu on Friday. The numbers have been steadily going up since July 10 when seven Amarnath pilgrims, were killed and 19 injured in a terror attack.
To bind a person to a jeep and parade him over a distance to make an example out of him for deterring stone-pelters violates Article 147 and would constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Convention.
The first in the convoy is a police vehicle, followed by a hired Tata 407 in which a group of CRPF men is sitting close together at the back, weapons over knees, fingers over triggers. One CRPF man is standing behind an LMG positioned over the front.
“The Amarnath pilgrimage affects our tourist season in a positive way,” said president, Adventure Tour Operators Association of Kashmir. “We don’t know the exact economics of the Yatra as there’s been no study of it. But certainly 25-30 per cent of these pilgrims would double as tourists.”
The Amarnath Yatra symbolises the best of Kashmir’s old syncretic ethos. It has had its moments of crisis, but a militant attack on pilgrims remains unacceptable to the Valley at large. The Indian Express tell the story.
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