#CoronavirusCrisis: No Amarnath Yatra this year due to COVID-19 pandemic
The annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage has been canceled for this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced the Raj Bhawan in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday. The decision to cancel the annual pilgrimage, which is held in July-August every year, over the safety concerns of pilgrims, was taken during the 39th meeting of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board. Here are more details.
Not advisable to conduct Amarnath Yatra this year: Raj Bhawan
The J&K administration's decision to not hold the Amarnath Yatra this year comes amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases there. "Based upon the circumstances, the (Shri Amarnathji Shrine) 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," stated the Raj Bhawan.
Amarnath Yatra canceled for second year in a row
Notably, this is for the second consecutive year that the iconic Amarnath Yatra has been called off. To recall, the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva in South Kashmir's Anantnag was canceled midway last year ahead of the Center's decision to scrap Article 370 and split the Jammu and Kashmir state into two Union Territories: J&K and Ladakh.
Virtual 'darshan' to be held for devotees
While the Yatra has been canceled, devotees can pay respects through live telecast. "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," stated Raj Bhawan. "Further, the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice," it added.
Health concerns are so serious: Board
"The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the Amarnath Yatra, will be immense. This would also unnecessarily put the Yatris at risk of catching the COVID-19," said the Board in a statement.
COVID-19 situation in J&K, SC's verdict discussed during meeting
The 39th meeting of the Board, held virtually, was chaired by J&K Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu. It was convened to discuss the prevailing coronavirus situation and its likely impact on the Amarnath Yatra. The Supreme Court's July 13 verdict regarding the annual pilgrimage was also discussed. The SC had told the J&K administration to decide on conducting the Yatra after assessing ground realities.
Religious places and places of worship closed for public: Spokesman
"The Board was informed that the arrangements (for the Yatra) were on track since February 2020, but due to nationwide lockdown and pandemic, State Executive Committee, J&K has still continued to keep religious places and places of worship closed for the public," a government spokesman was quoted as saying by Outlook. "These prohibitions continue till 31st July," he added.
14,650 COVID-19 cases registered in J&K so far
The decision to call off the Amarnath Yatra comes as J&K continues to witness a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases. The Union Territory recorded 14,650 cases so far while its death toll stands at 254, as per the Health and Family Welfare Ministry's data. Meanwhile, India's total tally touched 1.15 million cases on Tuesday while the total number of fatalities reached 28,084.