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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Valley opens for Amarnath Yatra amid security

Toufiq Rashid, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, June 28, 2014
First Published: 16:39 IST(28/6/2014) | Last Updated: 10:59 IST(29/6/2014)

This month, the Valley will once again come alive with the chants of the shlokas and the sound of azans. While the annual Amarnath Yatra, started on a grim note on Saturday as one of the pilgrims from Maharshtra died on the way to the 3,880 metre high holy shrine, the month of Ramzan will begin on Sunday.

According to the CEO of the Amarnathji Shrine Board Rakesh Kumar Gupta, the victim, 31-year-old Sunil Dharmani died due to a cardiac arrest.

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Amid three-tier security, the first batch of over 7,900 pilgrims who reached Baltal base camp on Friday started the arduous 16-km journey to the cave shrine around 5 am. “The yatra is taking place from the shorter route. The track is good and safe,’’ Gupta said.

A decision on opening of the traditional route is likely on June 30.

J&K governor NN Vohra, who is also Chairman of Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the annual pilgrimage, was the first to pay obeisance at the cave shrine and participated in ‘Pratham Pooja’, marking the beginning of the 44-day pilgrimage.

As for Ramzan, the ninth month of the Islamic Lunar calendar, during which Muslims all over the world observe a fast for 30 days, the markets are already buzzing with preparations.

The coinciding of both the religious events has been welcomed in the Valley. “It is our culture to celebrate Hindu and Muslim festivals together. There have been some misunderstandings in between but we cannot let go of our brotherhood and love for each other,’’ said Imtiaz Lone, a hotelier.

The state government is also planning for them together. Vohra prayed for sustained peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the state.

In an evening message, he said that Ramzan is a period dedicated to fasting, service and prayers and highlights the values of patience, self-restraint and austerity, which promote feelings of compassion and respect for others.


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