Six more Amarnath pilgrims died en route to the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, taking the toll during this year’s pilgrimage to 67, officials said on Wednesday.
Body of an unidentified Sadhu was recovered from a tent at Panjtarni, six kms short of the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine, along the 46-km traditional Pahalgam route, on Wednesday morning, the officials said.
One of the pilgrims, 50-year-old Prem Chand, a resident of Punjab, died after being hit by a shooting stone, rolling down from a hillock, while crossing Brarimarg glacier on 16-km Baltal-cave route in Ganderbal district last evening, they said.
Another two, Subash Chand (45) and Subash Babu (62), both residents of Uttar Pradesh, died of cardiac arrest at Railpathri and Brarimarg respectively, on Baltal route, on Tuesday night.
Hari Bhai (50) of Gujarat and Bhim Singh (72) of Haryana also died along the Baltal route last night.
Over 3.90 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance since the pilgrimage to the 3,880-mt high holy cave shrine began from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 25.
Shiv Sena protest
Holding the Jammu and Kashmir government and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board responsible for the death of Amarnath pilgrims, Shiv Sena held protests.
“Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and the state government are responsible for the 62 deaths (of the pilgrims) in few days after the commencement of the yatra (on June 25),” Shiv Sena state chief Ashok Gupta told reporters.
Over 1,500 activists of Shiv Sena and Dogra Front took out protest march against the government and SASB. The protesters alleged the government and the Board failed to tackle the increasing trend of deaths during the pilgrimage.
“J&K government has failed to provide medical facilities and senior ministers of Jammu are silent on the issue,” Mr. Gupta alleged, urging Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to intervene in the matter.
He said the deaths were avoidable and the authorities cannot escape from its responsibilities.
“The government and SASB cannot escape from responsibility if adequate arrangements are not provided...It is shameful that head of the state has not uttered a single word over the death of the 62 yatries,” Gupta said.
VHP accuses Shrine Board, demands probe
VHP also accused Shri Amarnath Shrine Board of failing to ensure adequate medical facilities to the pilgrims and demanded a high-level probe into the death of the devotees en route the 3,888-feet-high holy cave in south Kashmir Himalayas.
“A high level enquiry should be conducted to find out the causes of death so that appropriate steps should be taken to avoid such happenings in future during the Amarnath yatra,” J&K VHP chief R K Dubey told reporters.
Over 60 people died due to heart attack and high altitude sickness en route the cave shrine in Kashmir Valley in just 16 days of the yatra, which started on June 25.
“The increasing number of deaths of the Amarnath pilgrims clearly shows there are inadequate medical facilities...It appears that the arrangements shown to be provided are all in papers,” Dubey said.
He alleged there is shortage of oxygen gas cylinders and medical staff along the yatra route.