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Amarnath yatra postponed to June 15

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
May 26, 2009 17:13 IST
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The annual Amarnath yatra has been re-scheduled and will now commence from June 15. The postponement was necessitated by the presence of heavy snow on the yatra route to the Himalayan Cave Shrine located at a height of 13000 feet from both southern Chandanwari and northern Baltal routes.

A spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board  said on Tuesday said that Jammu and Kashmir governor, N N Vohra, who is also the chairman of the SASB, took this decision after undertaking an aerial survey on May 24, to personally assess the situation on both the routes and at the base camps, after procuring inputs from the concerned agencies,about the status of track clearance on both the Pahalgam and Baltal routes.

Vohra had undertaken aerial surveys of the routes on May 6, and May 8, to assess the situation before the earlier schedule of June 7 was finalized.

The spokesman clarified that the Amarnath yatra is contingent upon a number of factors such as the timely opening of the traditional route from Chandanwari to the cave shrine alongside the opening up of the Baltal-cave shrine route, prior positioning of the security forces, the yatra related staff of the SASB and the staff of the various concerned government agencies, provision of identified facilities at various locations and the satisfactory clearance of both the tracks for ensuring the safe and secure passage of the pilgrims.

He also noted that the prevailing law and order situation in Punjab, particularly in regard to the mobilization of free langars, has been yet another unforeseen factor, particularly as dozens of trains passing through Jalandhar have been cancelled or deferred.

"Keeping in view an on-the-ground assessment of all the above aspects, the SASB has been left with no choice except to reschedule the yatra from 7th June to15th June 2009," he said.

This decision, he said, has been taken "in the larger interests of the yatris, who throng from various parts of the country and abroad to undertake an arduous journey to pay obeisance at the cave shrine." Last year, Kashmir witnessed an extended land row agitation, following the allotment of forest land by the then state government to the SASB. Under pressure from Kashmir valley protestors, the order was initially rescinded, but restored after a counter agitation in Jammu region.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar