Undeterred by the grenade attack on Baltal base camp

Security arrangements have been strengthened along the highway

Jammu: Undeterred by the grenade attack on the pilgrims at Baltal, the number of Amarnath pilgrims arriving here from different parts of the country have again increased as 18th batch of 1,259 pilgrims left here for the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas on Friday.

Stadium

The batch, including 683 men, 306 women, 36 children and 234 sadhus, left in a fleet of 34 vehicles from the base camp of MAM stadium here around 6 a.m. amid tight security, officials said here.

The fleet of vehicles carrying pilgrims crossed Kud around 10 a.m. and are expected to reach the base camps at Nunwan in Pahalgam and Baltal in the Kashmir Valley by the evening.

Only 943 pilgrims left for the shrine, at a height of 3,880 metre, on Thursday, they said.

Security arrangements have also been strengthened along the highway from here to the base camps following the attack at Baltal camp on Tuesday evening in which one pilgrim was killed and 17 others injured.

With Friday’s batch, about 36,391 yatris have left from here for the cave shrine since the commencement of the yatra on July two.

Two more pilgrims die

Though the yatra was to start from June 30, however, the authorities had deferred it as the national highway was blocked due to landslides following rains, they added.

Two more pilgrims died after paying obeisance at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir, taking the death toll to 24 in this season.

Two elderly pilgrims, identified as Kishore of Punjab and B Rathore of Gujarat, died of cardiac arrest after visiting the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, official sources said.

Commencement

With their death, the number of pilgrims who died since the commencement of the annual two-month yatra on July 1 has risen to 22.

In addition, two persons including a woman pilgrim were killed in separate accidents before the commencement of the yatra at Railpathri on Baltal-Cave track in the last week of June.

Meanwhile an Amarnath pilgrim from Haryana embraced Islam at Sonamarg hill resort in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday. Parveen Sharma arrived at Baltal base camp en-route to Amarnath, 100 kms from here, and straightway drove to nearby Sonamarg hill resort where he expressed his desire to embrace Islam at the local Jamia Masjid during Friday prayers, official sources said. - PTI