- Annual Amarnath Yatra cancelled owing to the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in J&K
- Devotees will still be able to observe morning and evening prayers from their homes via live broadcast
The annual Amarnath Yatra for 2020 has been cancelled citing the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir. On Tuesday, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board said that virtual darshans will be available of one of the holiest Hindu pilgrimages which is devoted to God Shiva via live broadcast of both morning and evening aartis which will continue at the shrine.
Amarnath Shrine is situated at a height of 13,000 feet above the sea level.
An official spokesperson from the Shrine Board said, “Based upon the prevailing circumstances, the Board decided with a heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra and expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020,”.
The spokesperson added that the traditional rituals will be continued at the shrine without any interruptions.
“The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees and to keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast/ virtual darshan of the morning and evening Aarti,” the spokesman added.
The decision of cancelling the Amarnath Yatra 2020 was taken at the 39th Board Meeting of SASB which was attended by the Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu as the chairman along with other board members.
The board discussed based on the directive passed by the Supreme Court of India on the 13th July 2020 which left the decision to conduct the Yatra to the administration after assessing the ground report prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Shrine Board was informed that the arrangements for the Yatra were on track since February, however, owing to the pan India level lockdown, the state executive committee of Jammu and Kashmir decided to keep the religious placed closed for public and keep these prohibitions in place until the 31st of July.
Additionally, the Shine Board also discussed how the pandemic could potentially put the health administration system to its limit as a huge spike in the Coronavirus cases in July has already put a strain on the system.
The health workers and security forces are also getting infected with the deadly virus and the focus of the frontline healthcare workers along with the Police and Civil administration was to contain the pandemic.
The discussion of the board underlined that diversion of resources for Amarnath Yatra 2020 will put a huge strain on the administration along with putting hundreds of Yatris at risk of contracting the novel Coronavirus.
The Shrine Board has taken the views and guidelines into consideration and the government has reasoned against holding the Yatra in 2020 keeping in mind the interest of the public.
The cancellation of the Amarnathji Yatra comes despite the administration having taken necessary steps for conducting a curtailed pilgrimage via a shorter route of Baltal track situated in Ganderbal district.
There were several other security agencies and governmental department who has taken all the necessary steps to ensure the pilgrims did not face problems during the Yatra.
In 2019, “the Amarnath Yatra was curtailed following intelligence inputs of terror attacks and violence ahead of BJP led central government’s move of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and in 2018, the pilgrimage was held for 60 days.” said a leading news agency. The Amarnath cave is considered as one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism and hundreds of thousands of devotees undertake the arduous annual pilgrimage in south Kashmir Himalayas.