Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has been forced to open six on-the-spot registration counters as a large number of unregistered pilgrims had turned up at various base camps of the annual yatra in the guise of tourists. The SASB opened on-the-spot registration counters after a large number of unregistered pilgrims arrived at the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps on the eve of the commencement of the pilgrimage to the 3880-metre high cave shrine, according to sources.
“Hundreds of unregistered yatries managed to sneak through the security barricades set up by police and CRPF en route the cave shrine. Stopping such a huge number of people would have led to law and order problem,” the sources said. While four counters have been opened in Kashmir — at Nunwan, Chandanwari, Baltal and Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar, two counters have been opened in Jammu, they said. Board’s CEO Naveen K Chaudhury admitted that on-the-spot registration counters have been opened, but said there was no question of allowing unregistered pilgrims for the Yatra.
“There were some problems on the first day of the pilgrimage but not a single unregistered yatri has been allowed to proceed towards the holy cave after that,” Chaudhuy told PTI. The CEO said the registration for the pilgrimage was still open and so far more than four lakh persons have registered themselves for the yatra. Chaudhury appealed to the Yatris not to embark on the pilgrimage without securing a valid registration as this may cause inconvenience not only to themselves but also to the other Yatris. Asked about the high number of deaths in the ongoing pilgrimage, he said the pilgrims are not coming prepared for the ardous journey even though the SASB had carried out a massive awareness campaign about the ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’.
“The deaths have taken place even after deploying so many doctors, paramedics and life saving equipment. The pilgrims do not come with prior acclimatisation for this journey,” he said. He asked the devotees to immediately contact the nearest medical camps in case of any health issue to obtain timely medical attention. The toll in the first six days of the Yatra, that started on June 25, has reached to 14, even as more than 1.20 lakh pilgrims have so far paid obeisance to the naturally-formed ice Shiva lingam at the holy cave shrine.
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