J&K: Amid tight security, Amarnath yatra begins

Security personnel stand guard as vehicles carrying the first batch of Amarnath pilgrims leave for yatra from Jammu. (PTI Photo)

Amid tight security arrangements, the annual Yatra to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji in south Kashmir Himalayas began from twin routes of Balatal and Pahalgam on Monday.

On an inaugural day, Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), paid obeisance at the Sanctum Sanctorum and participated in the Pratham Pooja ceremony.

An official spokesperson said he prayed for sustained peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the State. The governor also lauded the people of Kashmir for making the annual pilgrimage a successful event ever since it is being observed.

Appreciating the valuable support of local people in the conduct of the Yatra, he described their role as a true essence of Kashmiriyat which is exemplary for its communal harmony.

Reports said the security along Jammu-Anantnag-Srinagar National Highway and trek en-route cave shrine has been tightened with Police, CRPF and army contingents deployed all along the routes. The vehicles of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police would escort the pilgrims’ convoys from Jammu to the two base camps.

Thousands of pilgrims each year undertake the Amarnath Yatra to the shrine cave to worship an ice stalagmite called Shivlingum, believed to be the symbol of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration. The yatra will conclude on August 15.

Meanwhile, chief executive officer (CEO) of SASB Umang Narula has once again appealed to the intending pilgrims to embark on the yatra only after getting medically checked and obtaining a valid permit.

He also appealed the pilgrims to bring with them adequate woollen clothing, muffler, sleeping bag, windcheater, raincoat, waterproof trekking shoes and umbrellas in view of harsh terrain where temperature abruptly falls to 2-5 degree Celsius in the Yatra area.

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