A fresh batch of over 2,000 pilgrims left here on Monday for the valley to perform the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. Over two lakh pilgrims have so far performed the yatra in the last 18 days. “Another batch of 2,646 yatris left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas for the Kashmir Valley in an escorted convoy at 4.55 am,” officials said.
Sixteen pilgrims were killed and 28 were injured on Sunday when a bus carrying them went out of control and dropped into a gorge by the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Nachnala near Bannihal town on Sunday. Nineteen injured pilgrims have been airlifted to Jammu for treatment.
On July 10, terrorists attacked a yatra bus at Batengo on the same highway killing seven pilgrims and injuring 16. An injured pilgrim succumbed in a Srinagar hospital on Sunday taking the death toll in the terror attack to eight. Over 35,000 security personnel drawn from the Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the state police have been deployed this year providing a multi-layered security to the yatris since it started on June 29.
The pilgrims either use the traditional 46km-long Pahalgam track or the 14km-long Baltal track to reach the Himalayan cave shrine situated at 3,888 metres above the sea-level. The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon. Devotees believe the ice structure symbolizes mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The 40-day long Amarnath Yatra will end on August 7 on ‘Shravan Purnima’ coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.