Amarnath yatra deaths: SC forms committee



New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday set up a high-powered committee to recommend measures to prevent the growing number of casualties of Amarnath pilgrims saying that it has become a permanent problem and a regular affair.

A bench of justices BS Chauhan and Swatanter Kumar formed the committee comprising senior officials of the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir government, security forces and Amarnath Shrine Board.

It directed the committee to visit the shrine and give the report to Jammu and Kashmir Governor who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), responsible for holding the annual Amarnath pilgrimage.

The recommendation made by the committee will then be submitted to the apex court by August 10 and the case will be taken up for further hearing on August 13.

The court passed the order after taking suo motu note of media reports of pilgrims' deaths allegedly due to lack of proper facilities and medical care for the pilgrims.

"It has become a regular affair and permanent problem. So we want a committee of responsible officers to look into it. Lakhs of people go there and there are innumerable deaths. Passages are very narrow and people fall down and die," the bench observed.

Pointing out the lack of facilities for pilgrims en route and around the Holy Cave of Amarnath, the bench said they have to stay for days on glaciers without any amenities and proper medical care.

The committee will comprise of secretaries of various departments including those from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Home Affairs, Health and Child Welfare, besides the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir government.

PTI