Two residents each of Punjab’s Mansa and Bathinda districts were killed on Tuesday after an LPG cylinder exploded in a community kitchen at the Baltal base camp of the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, 100 km from Srinagar.
The deceased were identified as Sandeep Singh and Gurdeep Singh of Bareta (Mansa) and Tirath Babu and Yadvinder Singh of Maur (Bathinda).
The explosion took place in the wee hours due to gas leakage in a pipe when breakfast was being prepared, after which a fire broke out in the makeshift kitchen (‘bhandara’), a police spokesman said. The ‘bhandara’ was organised by Shri Shiv Shakti Sewa Mandal, Budhlada (Mansa).
Sandeep and Gurdeep were sons of labourers, while Babu and Yadvinder were reportedly working in the community kitchen. Talking to HT, Sandeep’s father Tarsem Singh said, “This was the first time he had gone for the yatra. He had been staying at Baltal.”
Bathinda residents Manjeet Singh and Jasvir Singh were injured in the accident. The injured were admitted to a nearby hospital and their condition is said to be stable, the spokesman said, adding that a case had been registered.
Apart from the Shri Shiv Shakti Sewa Mandal, three NGOs (non-governmental organisations) from Budhlada, namely Shiv Shakti Sewa Mandal, Mahadev Sewa Mandal and Har Har Mahadev Sewa Mandal, have been organising ‘bhandara’ during the yatra every year.
Ex gratia relief
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board announced an ex gratia relief of Rs. 1 lakh each for the kin of the deceased.
The board chairman, Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra, also directed that all expenditure incurred on the transportation of the bodies to their native places, besides cremation, would be borne by the board.