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Jammu and Kashmir govt cancels Amarnath Yatra for second consecutive year due to COVID

The 56-day Amarnath Yatra was due to start simultaneously on both routes from June 28 and culminate on Raksha Bandhan, August 22.

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Jammu and Kashmir govt cancels Amarnath Yatra for second consecutive year due to COVID
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In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday decided to cancel the Amarnath Yatra second year in a row. The 56-day Amarnath Yatra was due to start simultaneously on both routes from June 28 and culminate on Raksha Bandhan, August 22.

The decision was announced by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha after discussions with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board.

The Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir tweeted: "It's important to save people's lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year's pilgrimage in the larger public interest."

The Yatra will be "symbolic only" but "all traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine," the Lieutenant-Governor's office said.

A threadbare discussion was held with the members of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board on the present Covid-19 situation before arriving on the decision. Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of the shrine board subsequently held detailed deliberations with Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, DGP Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Nitishwar Kumar.

He directed that devotees should be enabled to attend the morning and evening 'aarti' in online mode. He said it would help them to pay their obeisance while also avoiding and travel and exposure.

Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has put in place virtual and televised mechanism for live darshan from the holy cave.

Lt Governor also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol on significant days like Pratham Pooja, Samapan Pooja. He further stressed that saints visiting the shrine cave to perform aarti would follow Covid appropriate behavior.

Shri Amarnath Shrine Board CEO, Nitishwar Kumar, said that both morning telecast of aarti at 6 AM and evening aarti at 5 PM, each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on Amarnath Shrine Board's official website and the app specifically dedicated for the devotees.

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