Jammu, July 21: Amid the rising cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 across the nation, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) on Tuesday cancelled the Amarnath Yatra for this year. Earlier, the authorities had said that the yatra would begin July 21 and continue till August 3. However, the decision is now being rolled back.
The Board said that it is aware of and respects the sentiments of the devotees and to keep the religious sentiments alive, it will continue the Live Telecast/ Virtual Darshan of the morning and evening Aarti. Further, the traditional rituals will be carried out as per past practice.
A meeting took place on Tuesday following which an official statement on the matter was released. “The Government made reasoned observations supported by facts which suggested that it would not be advisable to conduct Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 and it would be advisable to cancel it this year in the larger public interest. 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 Shri Amarnathji Yatra,” read an official statement.
“Based upon the circumstances, the Board decided with a heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra and expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020. 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,” added the statement.
Lieutenant Governor, Girish Chandra Murmu, Chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), presided over 39th Board meeting of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board in which the Board members participated virtually through video conference to discuss the conduct of the Yatra 2020.
The Board discussed the Supreme Court order in which, the decision to conduct the Yatra was left to the Administration/ Government after assessing the ground realities prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir.
It was informed that the arrangements were on track since February 2020, but due to nationwide lockdown and pandemic, State Executive Committee, J&K has still continued to keep religious places and places of worship closed for the public. These prohibitions continue till July 31.
It further discussed that 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 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 Board also discussed the decision of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in which the court had directed the SASB to take a final view. It also deliberated the considered views of the government that made reasoned observations supported by facts which suggested that it would not be advisable to conduct the Yatra.
The meeting was attended by SASB Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam; SASB CEO Bipul Pathak; SASB Addl CEO Anup Kumar Soni, and senior officers of the Board. (Agencies)