Two pilgrims were killed on Sunday when shooting stones hit them on the 14km-long trekking route of Sonamarg to the cave shrine housing the holy ice stalagmite, Shiv Lingum, taking the toll of pilgrim deaths to three in two days.
According to police, the pilgrims, Tara Singh (28), a resident of Bathinda, Punjab, and Suresh Kumar Yadav (35), resident of Varanasi, UP, were killed on the spot when shooting stones, triggered by accumulated snow, trickling water and loose soil, hit them. The Baltal route is witnessing snow on large stretches of tracks due to prolonged winter in Kashmir this year.
According to the police, the yatra resumed after being halted for a while due to the incident.
This year, the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has thrown open only the Sonamarg route, 100 km north-east of Srinagar, as the traditional and historic route of Pahalgam, 90 km south of Srinagar, remains under snow. At places, the track is buried under more than six feet snow.
Compared to the 46-km long Pahalgam route, the 14 km trekking route of Baltal is more arduous and treacherous. In the past too, there were accidental deaths on these two tracks.
On Saturday, a pilgrim Sunil (31) died of cardiac arrest at Railpathri last evening as he could not acclimatise with the mountainous track situated around 3,880 metre above sea level.