In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the annual Amarnath yatra has been finally cancelled by the Amarnathji Shrine Board. The crucial decision was taken by the Chairman of the Shrine Board Lt-Governor Girish Chandra Murmu after holding discussion with all the board members via video conferencing and taking into account the feedback of the Government on Tuesday.
It is for the first time, the annual yatra to the cave shrine has been cancelled even before it was formally flagged off.
Due to fair weather conditions at the cave shrine, the major portion of the Shiv Lingam (ice stalagmite) which takes form inside the cave shrine has already melted away ahead of the Shravan Purnima, the day yatra is culminated on the day of Raksha Bandhan, falling on August 3 this year.
The Jammu & Kashmir administration had separately informed the Chairman of the Shrine Board that it would not be advisable to conduct Amarnathji Yatra 2020. The administration also suggested that the yatra should be cancelled.
“Based upon the circumstances, the Board decided with heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Amarnathji Yatra and expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020,” said the statement issued by the Amarnath Shrine Board.
It added, “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. Further, the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice. Also, the Chhadi Mubarak shall be facilitated by the Government.”
During its 39th meeting the Shrine Board also observed that coronavirus pandemic has put the health administration system to its limit. The spike has been particularly sharp in July. Health workers and security forces are also getting infected and the focus of the entire medical, civil and police administration at the moment is on containing the local transmission of the Covid-19 pandemic. The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the yatra, will be immense. This would also unnecessarily put the Yatris at risk of catching the Covid-19.
The meeting was attended by BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary Bipul Pathak, CEO SASB; Anup Kumar Soni, Addl CEO SASB & senior officers of Shrine Board. Threadbare discussion was held on the current circumstances of COVID-19 pandemic and its likely impact on the Yatra.
The Board was also informed that the arrangements were on track since February 2020, but due to nationwide lockdown and pandemic, the State Executive Committee, J&K has still continued to keep religious places and places of worship closed for the public.
Wednesday, 22 July 2020 | Mohit Kandhari | Jammu