Omar hopes for safe, peaceful Amarnath pilgrimage
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Monday hoped that this year`s Amarnath pilgrimage, scheduled to begin from June 29, would be safe and peaceful.
"The fact is that the people of Kashmir have a history and tradition of hosting Amarnath pilgrimage every year, and this stood out last year when despite street protests in the Valley, no pilgrim was harmed," Abdullah told media persons after attending a religious function at Kishtwar, 220 km north east of Jammu.
The Kashmir Valley had witnessed a more than four-month-long period of violent protests in 2010, in which 112 people were killed, but the Amarnath pilgrimage had passed off peacefully as extra security forces personnel were deployed along the route to the cave shrine.
Nearly half a million pilgrims had visited the cave shrine, devoted to Lord Shiva, in the Himalayas at a height of 13,500 feet above sea level.
Abdullah said that there were still difficulties in the snow clearance operations along the route this year.
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, which manages the annual pilgrimage, has announced it would begin on June 29 this year but is monitoring the situation as the uncertain weather is causing problems in making the track fit for the pilgrims.
This year, so far more than 230,000 pilgrims have registered themselves for the pilgrimage but are wary of the uncertain conditions in the mountains through which the track of the pilgrimage ascends from Baltal and Pahlagam.
Unlike previous years, pilgrims have not started arriving in Jammu so far, though only eight days are left for the start of the pilgrimage.
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