In 26 days, 3.15 lakh pilgrims perform Amarnath yatra

Hindu devotees on their way to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, at Pahalgam in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Nearly 3.15 lakh pilgrims completed the ongoing Amarnath yatra during the first 26 days breaking the record of last four years. 

According to officials, 3,14,584 pilgrims paid obeisance to the naturally formed ice-Shivlingam in the 3,880-metre high cave shrine from July 1 to July 26 evening. 

“This number is higher than those who underwent the yatra during the entire 59-day long period in 2015,” he said. 

It may be recalled that since Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) took the control of the yatra in 2001 the number of pilgrims who visited the holy cave were 1.91 lakh during that year, followed by 1.10 lakh in 2002, 1.70 lakh in 2003, 4 lakh in 2004, 3.88 lakh in 2005, 3.47 lakh in 2006, 2.96 lakh in 2007, 5.33 lakh in 2008, 3.81 lakh in 2009, 4.55 lakh in 2010, 6.21 in 2011, 6.35 in 2012 and 3.54 in 2013, 3.72 lakh in 2014, 3.52 in 2015, 2.21 in 2016, 2.60 in 2017 and 2.85 last year. 

So far, 26 pilgrims have died during this year’s yatra while two volunteers and two security men also lost their lives. 

The annual pilgrimage which commenced on July 1 from both the Baltal route in Ganderbal and the Pahalgam route in Anantnag, will conclude on August 15 coinciding with the "Shravan Purnima" festival.

On 10 July 2017, at least nine pilgrims were killed and 19 others injured in an audacious attack on a bus carrying yatries in Anantnag district. To ensure violence free yatra, the security top brass has ensured deployment of security forces in various layers while as pilgrims are being provided with wrist bands fitted with micro-chips this year.

The primary focus of the security forces is on highways—Srinagar-Jammu and Srinagar-Ganderbal to ensure smooth flow of vehicles ferrying pilgrims. The pilgrim vehicles are fitted with RIFD chips that remain under the radars connected with respective control rooms, officials said.

The more elaborate measures for annual pilgrimage were taken after the direction passed by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who had asked the security agencies to “further tighten the security for the Yatra.” Shah was in Kashmir for two days from June 26 and chaired a series of security review meetings.

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