Thousands of Amarnath pilgrims stranded in Jammu

Thousands of Amarnath pilgrims stranded in Jammu

Srinagar: Nearly 10,000 Amarnath pilgrims, apart from Kashmir bound tourists and local passengers were stranded at various places in Jammu region as the yatra convoy was not allowed to proceed to Valley from Jammu and the movement of all sorts of vehicles was suspended between Batote and Banihal towns on Saturday morning. Over 600 vehicles were stranded at Batote and an equal number on the side of Banihal town, according to Traffic Police Control Room at Ramban.
As this led to huge traffic jam, the authorities did not allow even local commuter services ply between Batote-Ramban-Banihal towns, sources said.
The police control room at Jammu said that nearly 1,300 pilgrims were staying at Yatri Niwas in Bhagwati Nagar area here. This was apart from hundreds of Sadhus camping at Ramji temple in Purani Mandi area and other pilgrims staying in hotels and local sarais in the city.
Amidst tight security every morning, pilgrims in a convoy leave Jammu for Pahalgam and Baltal for their onward journey to Amarnath shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas. Apart from this, a large number of pilgrims travel directly to Baltal and Pahalgam.
While there had been no convoy leaving for Valley from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in the morning, the vehicles carrying pilgrims directly to Valley have been asked to stop at safe places along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. Similarly pilgrims returning to base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam after having darshan of the ice-lingam too are being stopped at those places in view of the apprehensions of violence over Burhan’s killing.
A decision over resumption in movement of pilgrims between Jammu and Valley will be taken after assessment of the situation on ground, said Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh.
An over 1 lakh pilgrims so far have darshan of the ice-lingam at the cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas ever since the beginning of yatra on July 2. The sunny weather conditions, nearly 20,000 pilgrims had started their journey towards the shrine from Baltwal and Pahalgam on Friday.
On Saturday authorities, as part of precautionary measures, suspended movement of all sorts of vehicular traffic along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. People in Banihal town observed bandh and took out a procession in protest over the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani by security forces the previous day. Also Anantnag town remained tense over the killing of the militant commander forcing the authorities to suspend Yatra. No pilgrims were allowed to move towards Srinagar from Jammu on Saturday.
The train service on Banihal-Qazgund-Srinagar-Baramullah stretch too was suspended for three days beginning Saturday. The mobile internet services in Jammu region too were suspended in the evening as reports of violence poured in from various parts of adjoining Valley.
In Banihal town where shops and other business establishments opened as usual on Saturday morning got closed immediately after some people took out a procession raising pro-Pakistan, pro-Burhan and pro-Azadi slogans around noon.
However, except two stray incidents of stone pelting, one at a CRPF picket on the national highway and another on a stationary TATA Sumo having some cops sitting inside it, no untoward incident was reported in Banihal town.
Meanwhile, tension prevailed in Bhaderwah town following announcement by Anjuman-e-Islamia from local Jama Masjid informing people that namaz-i-janaza of Burhan Wani will be offered after the evening prayers there. This led administration tighten security measures by deploying additional forces as a precautionary measure in the town where situation had remained normal earlier during the day.
Elsewhere in Jammu region, including Muslim dominated districts of Doda, Kishtwar and Poonch adjoining Kashmir Valley, situation remained peaceful with shopkeepers keeping their establishments open and vehicular traffic plying on the roads as usual. However, in the evening, authorities got mobile internet services also suspended across Jammu region as a precautionary measure.

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