'Amarnath yatris unfit, yet get medical certificates'

'Amarnath yatris unfit, yet get medical certificates'

Many pilgrims suffered from serious ailments, say doctors

Amid the rising number of deaths during the ongoing annual Amarnath yatra, a Jammu and Kashmir health department’s report on Thursday revealed that most of the people who died had come unprepared for the pilgrimage.

“Most of the dead people had not come fully prepared for the pilgrimage in terms of proper clothing. Some of them also took a dip in icy cold water before the darshan,” the report said.

It also added, “Also, the people fasted for three days before the darshan. It can lead to Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) which can prove to be fatal especially for diabetics who take their anti-diabetic medicine during the fasts,” the report said.

It has also been noted that outstation registered medical practitioners (RMPs) issued certificates to medically unfit pilgrims.  

“Out of the death cases of the younger pilgrims in the Holy Cave area, the doctors pointed at cases of those who had secured medical certificates despite suffering from serious ailments and being unfit for travelling at high altitude,” the report said.

Quoting a few examples, the report said, “Meghna Gupta, 24, of Chandigarh lost her life probably due to Hypothermia and Kishori Lal Joshi, 27, Gujarat, died perhaps of high altitude Pulmonary Oedema.”

The report also shed some light on the deaths of other pilgrims. Rajinder Patidar, 30, who hailed from Madhya Pradesh, is believed to have died of Hypothermia after taking a dip in the ice cold water. A pilgrim from Punjab, Umesh Shah, 39, died of sudden cardiac arrest probably due to secondary Myocardial infarction. 

The report also gave an account of the medical condition of Shakuntala Prasad, 59, who hailed from Bihar. Shakuntala was suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a very high risk ailment in which travelling is not advisable, but still she managed to get a medical certificate for the yatra.

In the wake of the report, J&K Governor N N Vohra, who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), has again directed the officials to publicise the precautions needed to be taken on the pilgrimage.

He emphasised that all yatris, including those in good physical condition, must carry the medicines which they are advised to take and besides them, some general medicines as may be advised by the doctors who have examined them.

The governor also appealed to all the pilgrims to report to the nearest located medical aid centre in the yatra area if they feel unwell or suffer from any kind of uneasiness.    

A total of 5,30,044 pilgrims visited the cave shrine by Wednesday evening, while 10,000 more offered prayers on Thursday afternoon, officials said.

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