Staggered Amarnath Yatra| 'Only 500 pilgrims to be allowed daily through Baltal route'

Video| Kashmir: First batch of 7500 Amarnath pilgrims flagged off from Baltal base camp

The annual Amarnath Yatra will be conducted in a staggered manner and not more than 500 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the sacred cave shrine of lord Shiva daily due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said on Wednesday.

The issue of pilgrimages to the Amarnath and Vaishnodevi shrines, both located in Jammu and Kashmir, was discussed at a high-level meeting attended by Union ministers G Kishan Reddy and Jitendra Singh and senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

“This year’s pilgrimage will be conducted in a staggered manner and not more than 500 pilgrims will be allowed to visit the shrine daily due to the COVID-19 situation,” an official privy to the discussion said.

The route through Pahalgam is yet to be cleared as it is full of snow and the pilgrimage may be allowed only through the Baltal route this year.

The doctors in the Union Territory and the armed forces are already stressed and hence, allowing a large number of pilgrims to go for the Amarnath pilgrimage will be an additional burden on medical staff and infrastructure, another official said. In case of Vaishnodevi shrine, the visit to the temple has been suspended till July 31 and authorities are contemplating allowing it first for local people. Later, depending on the coronavirus situation, people from outside the state will be allowed, the official said.