Guwahati: The Amarnath Yatra resumed on Monday, 11 July, with more than 4,000 pilgrims leaving their base camps to visit the cave shrine. The yatra had earlier been suspended earlier due to inclement weather.
A cloudburst had occurred on 8 July, which had triggered flash floods – leading to the deaths of at least 16 people and leaving dozens wounded. However, despite the risk of another such incident occurring, thousands proceeded towards the Amarnath cave on Monday.
“A total of 4,026 pilgrims left in the 12th batch from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in a convoy of 110 vehicles amid heavy security of CRPF,” officials stated, as per news agency PTI.
A total of 1,016 pilgrims heading for Jammu and Kashmir’s Baltal were the first bath to leave the Bhagwati Nagar camp at around 3:30 am, followed by the next batch comprising 2,425 pilgrims headed for Pahalgam, as per officials.
In July 2021, a flashflood had occurred at the same place near the Amarnath cave where the cloudburst had triggered floods on Friday.
There were no casualties in the flood last year as the yatra has suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flood had, however, washed away a few tents set up by security personnel in the area. Despite that, tents were set up in the exact same place this year.
“It was well known that the water channel there is prone to flooding, but still the planning completely lacked any thoughtfulness, especially about the weather at this time of the year. The main effort was to show numbers,” an official from the Jammu and Kashmir administration said.
This year, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) had built a wall about two-ft high to prevent water from flowing into the dry bed. However, when the flood occurred, the water rose above the wall within seconds and washed the tents away.
In the meantime, the Indian Army constructed a makeshift staircase outside the holy cave. This comes after a path leading to the shrine was damaged due to a landslide triggered by the cloudburst.
The 43-day yatra had commended on 30 June this year from two camps: the traditional Nunwan-Pahalgam in Anantnag and Baltal in Ganderbal.
So far, more than 1,13 lakh pilgrims have offered prayers at the Amarnath shrine this year. The yatra is scheduled to end on 11 August.