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Lt Governor performs Pratham Aarti, Amarnath Yatra to begin on July 23
7/5/2020 11:24:41 PM
Early Times Report

Jammu, July 5: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu and his family on Sunday visited the holy Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir.
Accompanied by senior officers of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), Murmu, who is the chairman of the Shrine Board, performed a special ‘pooja’ (prayers) at the cave shrine and wished for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.
This year’s 42-day-long yatra was scheduled to begin on June 23 but the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic cast its shadow over the pilgrimage which has now been curtailed from July 21 to August 3.
Speaking on the occasion, the Lieutenant Governor wished for an early end to coronavirus pandemic and hoped that the people would soon get relief from Covid-19.
He also wished that Jammu and Kashmir would march on the path of development and peace will prevail in the region.
He said the Shrine Board has decided to conduct the yatra via Baltal route only. “We have readied the Baltal route for the pilgrims who are expected to visit in limited numbers only due to this pandemic,” Murmu said.
He expressed happiness over the decision of the Shrine Board to broadcast a live telecast of Amarnath Aarti, twice a day, starting from today till August 3 and said it would benefit the pilgrims across the world.
“A large number of pilgrims may not be able to visit the shrine this year. The live telecast of Amarnath Aarti will benefit all such devotees,” he said.
.He was accompanied by his principal secretary and chief executive officer of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) Bipul Pathak, additional CEO AK Soni, Division Commissioner Kashmir Pandurang K Pole and other senior officials.
Prasar Bharati, India’s official broadcaster, showed the aarti live. It will do so till August 3.
“Happy to share that the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board in association with Prasar Bharati will bring the live telecast of Aarti from the Holy Cave of Shri Amarnathji on various Doordarshan channels,” Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar had tweeted on Saturday. The aarti will be shown live at 3 am and 7 pm.
The chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir BVR Subrahmanyam on Saturday had said that this year’s Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir Himalayas would have to be undertaken in a restricted manner, so that the SOPs for Covid-19 are strictly adhered to.
“Given the constraints, a maximum of 500 yatris will be allowed per day by road from Jammu. Therefore, arrangements will have to be limited to this number,” he had said while chairing a meeting of the sub-committee constituted by the Supreme Court.
The curtailed yatra (pilgrimage) is likely to be held from July 23 to August 3 this year from the shorter Baltal route.
On June 5, the top officials of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) performed “Pratham Pooja” in the state’s winter capital Jammu on the occasion of Jayestha Purnima signifying commencement of the annual pilgrimage.
The “Pratham Pooja” at SASB’s Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Ashram was conducted by Principal secretary to J&K Lieutenant Governor and CEO of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Bipul Pathak, ACEO AK Soni.
Last year, the yatra was cut short following intelligence inputs of terror threats ahead of the Centre scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2018, the pilgrimage was held for 60 days.
Thousands of pilgrims either trek the traditional and longer 45-km-long Pahalgam route or the shorter 16-km Baltal route to the holy shrine every year.
One of the holiest pilgrimages in Hinduism, the Amarnath Yatra attracts pilgrims from India as well as across the world. There have been terror attacks on the route of the yatra in the past. The last attack took place in 2017 on a bus from Gujarat in Anantnag district that left seven pilgrims dead.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir high court has sought to know from the government about arrangements and various safety precautions on Amarnath Yatra in view of Covid-19 pandemic.
On Friday, advocate Sachin Sharma had moved an application before the high court that was heard by Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul.
The division bench issued notice to the government.
Additional Advocate General (AAG) Aseem Sawhney accepted notice on behalf of the government. Monika Kohli who is assisting the court as Amicus Curiae also accepted the notice.
The court asked the AAG to place before it the proposal and decision of the government with regard to the yatra.
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