Amarnath Yatra resumes after brief halt



Zee Media Bureau

Srinagar: Amarnarh Yatra has resumed after being halted briefly early Saturday due to bad weather conditions on the route.

The annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave in the Kashmir Valley had started only yesterday despite inclement weather along both northern and southern routes leading to the shrine.

"About 7,000 pilgrims were allowed from the Nunwan base camp (in Pahalgam) to proceed towards the holy cave while an equal number of people left the Baltal base camp (in Ganderbal) for the shrine," official sources had said yesterday.

This year 600,000 pilgrims have registered themselves for the yatra. Authorities have made it clear that no unregistered person will be permitted to undertake the journey that passes through some of the most treacherous mountain routes in Kashmir Himalayas.

A three-tier ring of security manned by the Army, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police has been laid around the two base camps and the three transit camps. Besides, heavy deployment of security forces has also been made along the highways used by the pilgrims to reach the transit and the base camps.

Some media reports quoting the Army and some intelligence agencies have said that the separatist guerrillas have plans to attack the pilgrims.

Though Chief Minister Omar Abdullah dispelled these reports as "alarmist", the forces have been instructed to take no chances with the security arrangements and safety of the pilgrims.

Dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Shiva, the Amarnath cave shrine is located at 13,000 feet above the sea level. The distance from north Kashmir's Baltal base camp to the cave shrine is around 14 km and the pilgrims are able to return after 'Darshan' the same day.

However, the traditional south Kashmir route from Nunwan base camp to the cave is 45 km passing through Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni halting stations. The one-way journey to the shrine on this route takes three days.

(With IANS inputs)