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J&K govt suspends Amarnath Yatra ‘in larger public interest’

Even as Covid-19 cases have been waning in Jammu and Kashmir over the last three weeks, the administration led by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has decided to cancel the yatra “in the larger public interest”.

By: Express News Service | Srinagar |
Updated: June 22, 2021 2:47:18 am
J&K govt suspends Amarnath Yatra ‘in larger public interest’The Amarnath Yatra has been suspended for the second consecutive year citing the Covid-19 pandemic. (File photo)

The Amarnath Yatra has been suspended for the second consecutive year citing the Covid-19 pandemic. The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board had suspended registrations for the yatra this year in the last week of April as cases soared across the country.

Even as Covid-19 cases have been waning in Jammu and Kashmir over the last three weeks, the administration led by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has decided to cancel the yatra “in the larger public interest”. All traditional religious rituals will be performed at the shrine. The yatra, however, will remain symbolic.

The UT administration had drawn flak for hosting a Tulip festival at Srinagar in April even as cases soared across the valley.

Till two weeks ago, the state unit of the BJP had been asking for the yatra to be allowed even if with a limited scope.

On June 7, J&K BJP president Ravinder Raina said “a restricted pilgrimage should be facilitated” if the prevailing Covid situation does not allow a full-fledged yatra.

However, the UT administration on Monday said that a “threadbare discussion” was held with the members of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board on the present Covid-19 situation before arriving on the decision.

Sunil Sethi, chief spokesperson of the J&K BJP, said, “We were saying that subject to Covid conditions and subject to security scenario, it should be held. But when the government assessment is that in view of Covid and security scenario, it cannot be held, then why should we insist on it.”

L-G Manoj Sinha, who chairs the shrine board, said in the statement, “It is important to save people’s lives…Board is aware of and respect the sentiments of millions of devotees… Board shall continue the live telecast of morning and evening Aarti from the Holy Cave shrine.”

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