Within minutes of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) announcing cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra due to coronavirus pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Wednesday said the press note was “cancelled and withdrawn”.
However, nothing else was said, giving rise to uncertainty over the 42-day-long yatra which was scheduled to commence from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 23. In an official statement titled “Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 cancelled due to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic”, a spokesman said that the decision was taken at the 38th Board meeting of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) which met under the chairmanship of Lt Governor G C Murmu at Raj Bhavan here.
However, he said the board decided that the Pratham Pooja’ and ‘Sampann Pooja’ would be done with traditional fervor. Later, within half an hour, another official statement was issued which read, “The Press Note titled Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 cancelleddue to outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic released vide No: PR/DI/19/7062/ may kindly be treated cancelled and withdrawn.” Earlier, Murmu, who is also chairman of the SASB, had said there were 77 red zones identified in the Kashmir valley from where the pilgrimage passed.
“Due to this pandemic, the establishment of langars, medical facility, camp establishment, material mobilization and snow clearance are not possible,” he said. “Though Government of India extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3, it is highly unpredictable to know which direction it will take later. The safety of the pilgrims is of prime importance,” he said.
The spokesman said the board decided unanimously that in view of the pandemic, it wouldn’t be prudent to organize the yatra. “It was also decided that the board would explore the possibility of telecasting the pooja and darshan of Shivlinga online and through other media for millions of devotees worldwide,” he said, adding the board members noted that this should also set an example for all to avoid such congregations.(Agencies)