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Amarnath Yatra to be held only for 15 days this year: Report

The annual Amarnath Yatra, which was earlier curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be held only for 15 days this year, sources said on Friday.

The pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas will now be conducted from the shorter Baltal route only, they added.

The decision was taken during a meeting held by Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor GC Murmu on Thursday night. It was attended by chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, principal secretary to LG Bipul Pathak and director general of police Dilbagh Singh, according to sources.

The deputy commissioner of Ganderbal has been instructed to clear the track from Baltal, they said.

The government had decided in February this year to hold a 42-day long annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine.

The Amarnath Yatra was scheduled to begin from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 23. The pilgrimage was to end on August 3 on the day of Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan).

Last year, the Amarnath Yatra was cut short following intelligence inputs of terror threats ahead of the Centre scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and in 2018, the pilgrimage was held for 60 days.

However, the Amarnath Yatra was shelved in April only to be revived a short while later by the Jammu and Kashmir administration, saying the cancelling order stands withdrawn.

After the flip flop on the pilgrimage, Murmu said that appropriate decision on organising Amarnath Yatra and Budda Amarnath Yatra can only be taken after periodic reviews of the situation in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Thousands of pilgrims either trek the traditional and longer 45km-long Pahalgam route or the shorter 14km-long Baltal route to one of the Hinduism’s holiest shrines every year.

The pilgrimage usually spans nearly a month and a half and takes place during July and August.

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