Amarnath Yatra suspended after rains lash Jammu and Kashmir, deaths of four pilgrims

A landslide had struck between Railpatri and Brarimarg on the 14km trekking route to the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Jul 04, 2018 19:50 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Amarnath Yatra,Amarnath Yatra suspended,Jammu and Kashmir
A security person stands guard as pilgrims wait after Amarnath Yatra was suspended due to bad weather, in Jammu.(PTI Photo)

The annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath was suspended from both routes of Baltal and Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday after rains lashed the mountainous tracks and a landslide killed four pilgrims on Tuesday night.

The landslide had struck between Railpatri and Brarimarg on the 14-km treacherous trekking route to the cave shrine from Baltal base camp in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

“We have lost four people in the landslide,” Ganderbal’s deputy commissioner Piyush Singla said.

Singla said the dead include two male and two female pilgrims. He identified them as Ashok Matha from Bihar, Delhi’s Shalinder, 30, and Jyoti Sharma, 35. The details of the fourth person were not available.

He said they have cleared the landslide at Railpatri but could not allow the pilgrims to go ahead.

“Our men and machinery are on the spot but it is still raining,” Singla said.

An official at the joint control room from the Pahalgam side also said the incessant rains have forced them to stop the pilgrimage for the day. A Raj Bhawan spokesman said that limited helicopter services functioned from both routes on Wednesday. He said that on the 7th day, 5919 Yatris prayed at the Holy Cave and till date 60,752 Yatris had darshan at the Holy Cave.

Jammu and Kashmir police tweeted on Tuesday night that five people died in the landslide but clarified on Wednesday morning that only three were killed.

The pilgrimage has remained suspended for a larger part due to rains after it made the treacherous mountain tracks slippery.

A health official said that seven injured pilgrims were referred to hospitals in Srinagar for advanced treatment and some 15 to 20 people were given first aid at the base camp. Three local horse riders were also among the injured.

Torrential rains with fast winds lashed the Kashmir valley on Tuesday evening uprooting trees, electricity poles and damaging roofs of houses at many places in the plains.

Besides the four deaths due to the landslide, six people, including four pilgrims, have died mostly due to health issues in Kashmir since the start of the Amarnath Yatra on June 28.

A soldier of the Border Security Force, Hardeyal Singh, died owing to cardiac problem on June 28. A local, Said Mohammad, was carrying pilgrims on Monday when he complained of pain in abdomen and brought dead to the hospital.

On the sixth day of the pilgrimage on Tuesday, 18,467 yatris visited the cave shrine in the southern Himalayas taking the total number of pilgrims who paid obeisance to 54,833.

The cave shrine, which is 3,893 metres above the sea level, houses an ice stalagmite that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon, and devotees believe the structure symbolises Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. It was discovered by a Muslim shepherd in the 15th century.

The two-month annual pilgrimage for which 2,11,000 people have registered so far this year comes amid a governor’s rule in the state after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended its coalition with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on June 20.

There has been heightened militant activity even before the pilgrimage started, although a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander assured pilgrims that “you don’t need any security as you are our guests”.

The state police, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Indian Army have put up a coordinated security arrangement in place for the pilgrimage.

First Published: Jul 04, 2018 18:06 IST