With the rise of Covid-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir and other states, the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) on Thursday decided to suspend registrations for this year’s yatra.
Last year, the board had cancelled Amarnath Yatra due to Covid-19. In 2019, three days ahead of abrogation of Article 370, the government had called off the yatra midway on August 2 after issuing an advisory to non-locals, including pilgrims, to leave Kashmir.
A government spokesman said considering the evolving situation across the country and Jammu and Kashmir, it was decided to defer registrations for the Yatra 2021. “It was informed that the situation is being constantly monitored and the registrations will reopen once the Covid spread is reviewed as the situation evolves,” the spokesman said.
This year, the board was all set to register six lakh Amarnath Yatris.
On January 25, the Jammu and Kashmir government had said it was preparing to welcome 6 lakh yatris this year. State chief secretary at a meeting in January this year had reviewed the status of track upgrade on the Baltal and Chandanwari routes, improvements at the access control gates and the establishment of temporary camps at various locations. The Amarnath shrine is situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet above sea level. The pilgrims have to trek a distance of 32 km from Chandanwari (Pahalgam route) and 14 km from Baltal to reach the shrine.
The board said it had commenced registrations for this year on April 1, and the arrangements were on track since February 2021 for the conduct of the pilgrimage which was expected to start from June 28, 2021. “The decision has been taken to check any unnecessary gatherings,” the spokesman added. Since April, 30,000 people from different parts of the country registered for the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, a former MLA and minister of state Thakur Puran Singh died on Thursday due to Covid in Rajouri district. He was earlier affiliated with the Congress and later joined the BJP. Puran, a resident of Kewal Badhal in Kotranka sub-division, had recently returned from Kumbh Mela. Officials say he was to be taken to hospital in Punjab but died on the way.