Two Amarnath pilgrims on Wednesday died of cardiac arrests near the high altitude cave shrine, officials said. With this, the death toll has climbed to 18 in the ongoing 40-day yatra in the south Kashmir Himalayas. This includes seven pilgrims killed in the Anantnag terrorist attack on Monday night.
While Rajender Prasad, 64, a Sadhu from Jharkhand, was found dead in Poshpathri, Ashok Mahadev Belwan, 63, from Maharashtra died at Panjtarni. Prasad was found dead inside a tent near Mahagunus top in the vicinity of the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine, officials said, adding the sadhu had apparently died of cardiac arrest.
Belwan also died of cardiac arrest at Panjtarni along the traditional Pahalgam-cave route in Anantnag district in the wee hours on Wednesday, they said. The 40-day pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath in the mountainous region of south Kashmir started on June 29 from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district.
The yatra is scheduled to culminate on August 7, coinciding with the Hindu festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’. The yatra continued smoothly despite the terrorist attack on a bus in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district in which seven pilgrims were killed and 19 injured on Monday night.
Undeterred by the attack, 10,929 pilgrims visited the cave shrine on Tuesday and paid their obeisance at the naturally formed ice-lingam considered by devotees as a symbol of Lord Shiva. About 1.65 lakh pilgrims have visited the cave shrine since the commencement of the yatra on June 29.