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Half of over 7,000 Amarnath bound pilgrims return due to road closure


Traffic resumes on Jammu-Srinagar Highway


Jammu: A fresh batch of 7,053 Amarnath pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here on Saturday for the twin base camps in Ganderbal district but over half of them were forced to return due to highway closure, officials said.
The pilgrims left in 243 vehicles escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), they said.
As many as 2,504 pilgrims headed to the Baltal base camp were the first to leave in 88 vehicles, followed by the second convoy of 155 vehicles carrying 4,649 pilgrims to the Pahalgam base camp, the officials said.
However, the convoy headed to Pahalgam returned to the Bhagwati Nagar base camp as the Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed due to landslides triggered by rains. The convoy headed to Baltal was halted at Ramban and the pilgrims were housed in the Yatri Niwas camp.
Heavy overnight rains in Jammu have triggered landslides and mudslides.
The Amarnath Yatra was suspended from Jammu on Friday due to inclement weather and bad condition of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
The 43-day Amarnath Yatra to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas commenced on June 29.
Around afternoon, vehicular traffic resumed on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway after it was halted for several hours owing to bad weather and shooting stones in Ramban district in the morning, officials said.
Hundreds of vehicles, including those which were part of the Amarnath yatra convoy, were stranded on the highway at various places.
Traffic was resumed after restoration of highway and improvement in the weather and road conditions, officials said.
The Amarnath convoy for Baltal, which was stopped at Yatri Niwas at Chanderkoot, has been allowed to move up to Mir Bazzar in Anantnag for night stay, they said.
The convoy coming after the night-stay at Mir Bazzar (Kashmir) following ‘darshan’ at the cave shrine will be allowed to move towards Jammu, they said.
The highway was closed this morning due to shooting stones at Meehar Ramban and Pantiyal, officials said.
Senior Superintendent of Police, traffic, Shabir Malik said no traffic will be allowed from Jammu today.
So far, over 2.22 lakh pilgrims have offered prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice Shiv lingam, the officials said.
The pilgrimage is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan. So far, 35 people, mostly pilgrims, have died during the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. This excludes 15 pilgrims who died in a flash flood near the cave shrine on July 8, the officials said.

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