Valley violence curbs Amarnath pilgrims movement, but ‘darshan’ on at shrine

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Jammu/Srinagar, July 9 (IANS) The Amarnath Yatra was suspended on Saturday and no pilgrim was allowed to move from Jammu city following the unrest in the Kashmir Valley over the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani but over 15,000 pilgrims already at the shrine had ‘darshan’.

“On the 8th day of Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2016, 15,684 Yatris paid obeisance at the Holy Cave,” said an official statement issued in Srinagar.

“Till date 1,18,747 Yatris had ‘Darshan’ of the Ice Lingam at the Holy Cave,” it added.

It said that the Yatra convoy did not proceed from Jammu to the two Base Camps on Saturday because of “law and order considerations”.

Asked whether the movement of Yatris would be allowed on Sunday, a senior official said: “The situation will be reviewed tomorrow (Sunday) morning.”

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Hundreds of pilgrims en route had to spend the day in transit or security force camps — one enroute to Baltal and one to Pahalgam, and around 5,000 were at the base camps, officials said.

On Saturday ten protesters died and many were injured in violent clashes with security forces across the Kashmir Valley over the killing of Wani, the poster boy of militancy in Kashmir. The militant was buried on Saturday with thousands massing for the ceremony.

None of the pilgrims were allowed to move due to trouble on the highways.

Subhash Parmar from Mumbai told IANS: “I have come for the yatra, but many yatris like me are stuck now.”

Suman from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh said: “I can’t go home, there are no cars, we are just waiting, the government officials are nowhere to be seen.”

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Manoj Kumar from Varanasi complained that there was “no food” and the road was blocked and some vehicle drivers were asking for a lot of money to transport them, so they were forced to keep waiting.

“No yatri was allowed to move from Bhagawati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu city towards the valley due to prevailing tension following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani,” a senior police official told IANS in Jammu.

The annual Amarnath Yatra was proceeding normally so far and over 100,000 pilgrims have had ‘darshan’ of the ‘Lingam’ inside the cave shrine in the Kashmir Himalayas.

Situated at 3,888 metres above sea level, the cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.

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