Around 3 lakh pilgrims have registered for Amarnath Yatra so far
STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu: Around three lakh pilgrims have registered so far for the annual Amarnath Yatra which is scheduled to begin on June 30 amid unprecedented security arrangements in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said on Sunday.
Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which manages the annual pilgrimage, commenced the registration of pilgrims for the 43-day yatra on April 11 through 566 designated branches of various banks across the country, in addition to the facility on its website.
Registrations will continue till the end of the yatra.
The yatra will commence from twin routes traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal — after a break of two years following the Covid outbreak.
The first batch of pilgrims, including Sadhus, will leave for the twin base camps of Kashmir from Bhagwati Nagar and Ram Mandir in Jammu a day ahead of the official commencement of the yatra which will culminate, according to tradition, on the day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival on August 11.
“Around three lakh pilgrims have so far registered for the yatra,” an SASB official said.
According to SASB, no one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years, and no woman with more than six week’s pregnancy, are registered for the yatra.
The government, this year, is introducing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for pilgrims to track their movement en-route to ensure their well-being.
Over 3.42 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam from July 1 to August 1, 2019 before the government cancelled the yatra midway ahead of abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into two union territories (on August 5, 2019).
Additional Director General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh said security-related arrangements are complete for the yatra which is being conducted under the surveillance and close coordination of various security agencies.
“We have been provided with a sufficient number of security personnel and the deployment (of the forces for the yatra) is complete,” he said, expressing confidence that the yatra will be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.
The ADGP said since sabotage by terrorists is the biggest challenge during the yatra, the police has also launched an awareness campaign to inform the public, especially drivers, about various steps which are required to be followed to avoid any untoward incident.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Udhampur, has started an awareness campaign in the district which falls on Jammu-Srinagar national highway to inform the drivers about the threat of sticky bombs.
“Such a campaign will be taken to all the districts and we are fully confident that the yatra will culminate in a peaceful manner,” he said.
During this year’s yatra, SASB has decided to put in place a daily route-wise pilgrims ceiling to 10,000, excluding those travelling by helicopters.
The board has also decided to extend the free-of-cost battery car service for the pilgrims at the 2.75 km-long Baltal to Domel stretch.
Hundreds of pilgrims including Sadhus, have already started arriving in Jammu and are enthusiastic about undertaking the pilgrimage, a symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood.