Amarnath Yatra resumes from Jammu, 3 days after cloudburst
The Amarnath Yatra resumed on Monday from Jammu's Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas base camp after a three-day gap following flash floods allegedly caused by a cloudburst at the cave shrine. Sixteen people were killed and 40 others are still missing, and the search for them continues. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has said it will get a clear picture of the damage by Tuesday.
- After a three-year hiatus, the 43-day Amarnath Yatra officially started on June 30.
- The Yatra was called off in 2019 in wake of the Centre's decision to repeal Article 370 of the Constitution.
- In 2020 and 2021, the pilgrimage was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Several forces, including the Indian Army, CRPF, NDRF, and ITBP, conducted rescue operations after Friday's reported cloudburst.
Following allegations the pilgrim camp affected on Friday was set up in a "risky" location, a spokesperson for J&K's Raj Bhavan told PTI previous flash floods were considered during the planning, and Friday's gush of water "was beyond calculations and never witnessed before." They explained the tents were never on the riverbed and were moved well beyond an embankment constructed this year for safety.
The clarification came in response to allegations that authorities ignored last year's July 28 cloudburst near the shrine while erecting tents and langars (community kitchens) on the dry riverbed this year. Former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah previously questioned the rationale for pitching tents on the dry bed of the stream rather than the traditional location of Panjtarni and demanded an investigation to determine responsibility.
The local administration claimed a cloudburst caused flash floods on Friday, but the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated it was merely a highly localized rainfall event. As per the IMD, a rain event is classified as a cloudburst if a monitoring station receives 100mm of rainfall in just one hour, but the reported rainfall on Friday was only 31mm in two hours there.
On Monday, Air Commodore Pankaj Mittalon stated the fatalities in the Friday incident were "limited" due to the first responders' efforts. In the meantime, despite the tragic incident, pilgrims have already begun to arrive at the base camps and many other government-designated lodging facilities for devotees. On Monday, the 12th group of 4,026 pilgrims departed from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in 110 vehicles.