Amarnath Holy Pilgrimage :News



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SC notice to centre on facilities for Amarnath pilgrims
Sunday July 15, 23:01:51 GMT+0530 2012 by
New Delhi, July 15 (IANS) Taking note of reported deaths of 67 pilgrims who fell sick on
way to the holy shrine of Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court has issued
notice to the central government seeking details of medical arrangements.

Besides the central government, the court also issued notice to the union home ministry, union
environment and forest ministry, the state government and the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board.

The court has asked them to appear before it and answer seven questions posed by it concerning facilities for the pilgrims.
“In our considered view, the pilgrims have a constitutional right under Articles 21 and 19(1)
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India, free of fear, with dignity and safety and to ensure enforcement of such right is the primary obligation of the state and the central governments,” said the apex court bench of  Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter
Kumar taking suo motu cognizance of newspaper reports about the deaths of the pilgrims Friday.

The notice is returnable in a week.
Taking note that 107 pilgrims died during the last year’s yatra, the court said that “the time
intervening the previous and the current year clearly demonstrates that the authorities have not taken any effective and appropriate
measures for protecting the life of thousands of devotees who visit the holy cave during this
limited period, despite the print media repeatedly bringing this to the notice of all concerned”.

“Thus, within the constitutional mandate of Article 21, this court would have no option but to pass appropriate directions,” the court said.

“They (the authorities) are also expected to make appropriate arrangements for darshan at
the holy cave so as to avoid health hazards and injuries, provide proper paths and one-way
system passages to the pilgrims to the holy cave,” the court said.

Some of the issues raised by the court in the notice are: “Whether there exist proper medical
facilities to prevent human casualties. Further to
provide emergency medical aid in the event of these yatris falling sick because of cardiac and other related problems” and the steps taken to “protect the environment in that area” including “collection and disposal of the waste…including by yatris “enroute and around the holy cave”.

“All these aspects need to be taken care of by the concerned authorities certainly with greater
emphasis and they cannot escape their obligation to provide minimum essential facilities including roads as an approach to the holy cave,” the court said.

The court said that the government was expected to equip their forces posted in and around the cave so as to have “complete human
dignity for the persons working there as well as for the pilgrims coming to the holy cave”.

The court observed that “where it is a matter of common knowledge that the yatra to the holy cave of Amarnath is an occasion of privilege and pride for a devotee, there it is also a matter of great concern for the government of India, the government of Jammu and Kashmir and the Amarnath shrine board”.

Referring to newspaper reports. the court said that “with the passage of time, the things have
hardly improved”. All these reports clearly showed disregard to the human life.

This court has repeatedly held that in terms of Article 21 of the constitution, a person has a
right to live with dignity and not be subjected to inhuman treatment, particularly in such places where large number of people are bound to visit because of their faith.


June 24
The firstbatch of Hindu pilgrims,consisting of 12,000 people
from across the country arrived
Sunday morning at the two base camps in Jammu and Kashmir
for the Amarnath Yatra, even as the authorities stepped up the three tier security along the route of the pilgrimage.


The Yatra for the Himalayan Cave Shrine is scheduled to begin Monday. June 25

Around 10,000 pilgrims reached the north Kashmir Baltal base camp in the morning.
Reports from the south Kashmir Pahalgam base camp said around 2,000 pilgrims were waiting
there to start the 34-kilometre long trek to the Cave Shrine tomorrow.

Paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the state police and the Army have stepped up
efforts to provide the three-tier security cover to the Yatra.


While pilgrims take four days from the Pahalgam base camp to reach the cave, those using the Baltal route return back to the base camp after the ‘darshan’ the same day.


The trek from Baltal to the Cave Shrine is 14 kilometres long.
Situated at an altitude of 13,000 feet, the Amarnath Cave houses the ‘Holy Lingam’ an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolise the
powers of Lord Shiva.

The ‘Lingam’ waxes and wanes with the cycles of the moon till the end of the Yatra coinciding with the Hindu festival of ‘Shravan Purnima’.

This year’s Yatra will officially begin tomorrow and end on August 2.


State governor, N.N. Vohra who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) visited the two base camps of the Yatra and various halting points en route to the Cave Shrine Saturday along with a team of state government officials.

The SASB has said the twin treks from Baltal and Pahalgam have been cleared for the passage of
the pilgrims even though Vohra said the treks were still slippery at many places.

Scores of makeshift tea-stalls and food shops have been opened by local Muslims along the 85-kilometre long Srinagar-Baltal route for the pilgrims.
All the potters and ponywallahs assisting the passage of the pilgrims along both the Yatra
treks are local Muslims who eagerly wait for thearrival of the Hindu pilgrims to earn their livelihood.


Dozens of other state government offices including medical department, public health engineering, public works, revenue etc are also detailed on Yatra duties to facilitate safety and smooth performance of traditional rituals.


Author: renjiveda

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