Amarnath Yatra cancelled due to Covid-19, aarti to be broadcast live
Amarnath Yatra has been cancelled after preparations had been made for a curtailed pilgrimage this year.Updated: Jul 21, 2020 23:10 IST
The annual Amarnath Yatra has been cancelled due to the continuous rise in Covid 19 cases across Jammu and Kashmir. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board on Tuesday said the virtual darshan of one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages devoted to lord Shiva will continue to be telecast live during the morning and evening prayers, which will continue at the shrine, located at a height of 13,000 feet from the sea level.
“Based upon the prevailing circumstances, the Board decided with heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra and expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020,” an official spokesman of the board said.
The spokesperson said that the traditional rituals shall be carried out at the shrine without any interruption
“The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees and to keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast/ virtual darshan of the morning and evening Aarti,” the spokesman added.
The decision was taken at the 39th board meeting of SASB, attended by the lieutenant governor Girish Chandra Murmu as its chairman and other board members.
The board discussed the Supreme Court order dated 13.07.2020, which left the decision to conduct the Yatra to the administration after assessing the ground realities prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Board was informed that the arrangements were on track since February 2020, but due to the nationwide lockdown, the state executive committee of Jammu and Kashmir had decided to keep religious places closed for the public. These prohibitions continue till 31st July.
The Board further discussed that the pandemic has put the health administration system to its limit as a sharp spike in new Covid cases in July has put strain on the system. Health workers and security forces are also getting infected and the focus of the entire medical, civil and police administration was on containing the pandemic.
Their discussions underlined that diversion of resources for the Yatra will put immense strain on administration and will unnecessarily put the yatris at risk of catching Covid-19.
The board also took the views of the government into consideration. The government had reasoned against holding the Yatra this year in larger public interest.
The cancellation comes despite the administration making necessary arrangements for conducting a curtailed pilgrimage through a shorter Baltal track in Ganderbal district.
Various government departments and security agencies had also made all preparations to welcome the pilgrims.
Last year, the Amarnath Yatra was curtailed following intelligence inputs of terror threats and violence ahead of BJP led central government’s move of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and in 2018, the pilgrimage was held for 60 days.
The Amarnath cave is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism and hundreds of thousands of devotees undertake the arduous annual pilgrimage in south Kashmir Himalayas.