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Coronavirus | SASB cancels Amarnath Yatra

Border Security Force (BSF) jawans keep watch on the Jammu-Srinagar Natoinal Highway ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra, near Jammu on July 21, 2020.

Border Security Force (BSF) jawans keep watch on the Jammu-Srinagar Natoinal Highway ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra, near Jammu on July 21, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) on Tuesday decided to cancel the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read: Supreme Court refuses to stop Amarnath Yatra

“The pandemic has put the health administration system to its limit. The spike has been particularly very 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 Board decided with heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Amarnath Yatra”, a SASB spokesman said.

Live telecast

The Board was aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees. “To keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast and virtual darshan of the morning and evening aarti. The traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice. Also, the Chhadi Mubarak shall be facilitated by the government”, the spokesman stated.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, who is also the chairman of the SASB, on Tuesday. All the Board members and top J&K officials participated virtually through a videoconference to discuss the conduct of the yatra.

Also read: Preparations ramped up for Amarnath Yatra

“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 COVID-19”, the official spokesman said.

The arrangements for the yatra were on track since February last. However, the pandemic has forced closure of religious places and places of worship till July 31.

Also read: J&K Governor performs 'pratham aarti' at Amarnath cave

The Board, which also discussed the decision of the J&K High Court to take a final view in the light of the order of the Supreme Court of compliance of all healthcare protocols, Standard Operating Protocols suggested that it would not be advisable to conduct the yatra.

“This would enable the health, civil and police administrations to focus on the immediate challenges facing them rather than diverting resources, manpower and attention to the conduct of the yatra”, the spokesman added.

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Printable version | Sep 30, 2020 8:46:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-sasb-cancels-amarnath-yatra/article32152525.ece

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