J&K govt. cancels Amarnath Yatra for this year due to COVID-19

This is for the third time in the last three years that the yatra was cancelled

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday decided to cancel the annual pilgrimage, Amarnath Yatra, in the valley due to the ongoing pandemic.

"Shri Amarnathji Yatra has been cancelled in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. The decision was taken after a threadbare discussion with the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board members. The yatra will be symbolic only. However, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the holy cave shrine as per past practice,” Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said.

Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, had detailed deliberations with Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary to Lt. Governor, Nitishwar Kumar on Monday.

“It’s important to save people’s lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest. The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees, and to keep the sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast of morning and evening Aarti from the Holy Cave shrine,” the Lt. Governor said.

The 56-day yatra was scheduled from June 28. A spokesman of the Board said a virtual and televised mechanism has been put in place for live ‘darshan’ of ‘aarti’ from the holy cave.

He also directed that COVID-19 protocols be abided by during the ‘Pratham Pooja’ and ‘Samapan Pooja’. "Saints visiting the shrine cave to perform ‘Aarti’ as per ‘shastra’ would follow COVID-19 appropriate behavior," the L-G said.

The mace of Lord Shiva or ‘Chhari Mubarak’ will be taken to the holy cave on August 22, when the yatra is to conclude coinciding with the festival of Raksha Bandhan.

This is for the third time in the last three years that the yatra was cancelled. In 2019, the yatra was cancelled halfway in the wake of the Centre’s move to end Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional position. In 2020, the pandemic and lockdown forced the authorities to cancel the annual pilgrimage.

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