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Rough weather aborts Amarnath yatra for many

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
June 16, 2009 23:05 IST
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Over five thousand pilgrims who left for the holy cave of Amarnath on Tuesday morning from north Kashmir's Baltel route had to abort the arduous uphill trek as the weather turned worse.

The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board authorities had allowed over ten thousand pilgrims to leave for the holy cave on Tuesday morning from the Baltel camp, but the worsening weather forced them to issue instructions to the security forces to halt and turn back over five thousand pilgrims.

However, over four thousand pilgrims had darshan at the cave Shrine on Tuesday before the weather turned inclement.

The Valley is in the grip of intermittent rains in the main land and heavy snow on the mountains, effecting to a drop in the temperature bordering on wintery conditions.

The traditional south Kashmir route to the cave Shrine continues to remain blocked because of the presence of heavy snow on the ground and fresh snow-fall in the area.

Meanwhile, the SASB that manages the affairs of the two-month long yatra to the Himalayan cave, has advised the pilgrims not to proceed to the Valley from winter capital Jammu on Wednesday as the weather department has forecast more rains and snow in the area.

The intending pilgrims have been advised to join the batch of pilgrims who would leave Jammu on Thursday subject to improvement in the weather conditions.

The spokesman urged the 'intending yatris to cooperate with the SASB and the government machinery to enable proper regulation of the yatra, particularly as ensuring the safety and security of the pilgrims is the prime and paramount concern of the board.'

The spokesman advised the yatris to proceed only after checking up the weather and trek conditions at various camps and offices set up by the SASB in Jammu and in Srinagar.

The SASB spokesman also said the state governor N N Vohra, who is the chairman of the board, could not reach the holy cave to join the inaugural function and the Pratham Puja on Tuesday, because of rough weather in the area.

About six thousand pilgrims are camped at the Baltal base camp, according to deputy chief executive officer SASB, Madan Mantoo.

"We will review the situation on Wednesday morning and then only decide whether or not to allow the pilgrims towards the holy cave," Mantoo said.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar