The Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board on Tuesday decided to cancel the annual pilgrimage (Amarnath Yatra) for this year in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, The decision was taken after the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) met today to decide on the same.
“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 said in a statement.
“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”, it further added.
The decision by the Jammu and Kashmir administration and SASB has put an end to the speculations made regarding the Amarnath Yatra. Earlier last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea, which sought directions to the Centre, J-K administration and SASB to cancel the annual pilgrimage, due to COVID-19 pandemic.
“We cannot enter the arena of the Executive. We have to respect the principle of separation of powers,” the top court had said during the hearing on the matter.
“Issue a writ/order/direction in the nature of mandamus, directing the Respondents to restrict the access of the general public/devotees/pilgrims for the Shri Amarnath Yatra 2020, in view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic or Issue a writ/order/direction in the nature of mandamus, directing the Respondents to provide for live darshan of the Lord Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine by way of the internet and the television, so that there can be access to crores of people across the country,” the plea filed in Supreme Court had said.
Earlier in April, the SASB had released a press note announcing the cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra scheduled to take place from June 23 to August 3, however, later in the day the SASB rolled back its decision and said that the final decision on the annual pilgrimage would be taken soon after a review of the coronavirus situation.
“Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic situation being dynamic, an appropriate decision can be taken on organising the (Amarnath) Yatra on reviewing the situation in the coming future,” the statement by Amarnath Shrine Board had stated.
According to the old plan, it was decided that the yatra would take place from one route only and all the pilgrims will have to go through a COVID-19 test. It was said that the temple authorities would telecast puja on television for devotees across the country.
According to the previously decided norms for Amarnath Yatra, it was decided that the pilgrimage will take place from July 21 till August 3, and would take place only through one route.
It was also decided that all the pilgrims will have to undergo a COVID-19 test before the start of the yatra. It was also reportedly said that the SASB will telecast puja on television for the devotees.
The Amarnath cave is one of the holiest shrines in Hindu beliefs and hundreds of thousands of devotees make an annual pilgrimage to it across challenging mountainous terrain. The shrine was situated at 3,880 meters above the sea level in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district.