NGT bans chanting ‘mantras’, ringing of bells in Amarnath cave shrine

NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday issued an order banning the chanting of mantras, ringing of bells at Amarnath temple while issuing a slew of other directions as well.

As per the order issued by NGT there should be no ringing of bells, and the devotees cannot carry their mobiles or belongings beyond the last check post. The shrine board has been asked to consider making a storeroom where people can keep their belongings, the NGT said.

The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar on Wednesday said that there should be no ringing of bells in the cave temple, situated at an altitude of 3,888 metres in South Kashmir and pilgrims would have to deposit all mobiles and belongings at the last check post.

From the last check post, the board said, a single line of people should be made for devotees to walk towards the cave.

The court has asked the board for strict implementation of its orders.

Pertinently, the NGT had recently pulled up the Amarnath Shrine Board and asked them about the measures taken to provide infrastructure facilities to pilgrims travelling to the cave shrine in south Kashmir.

“You have allowed shops on path near the shrine. There are no proper facilities for toilets. Do you even know how humiliating this is for women. Why have you not provided proper infrastructural facilities for pilgrims. You are giving priority to commercial activities over pilgrims. This is unfair. The sanctity of the shrine has to be maintained,” NGT had said in November.

During the hearing in November, the tribunal also sought to know if the Amarnath board had complied with the Supreme Court’s 2012 directions to improve infrastructure to prevent casualties during the pilgrimage.

In 2012, the SC had set up a high-powered committee to recommend measures to prevent casualties during the Amarnath Yatra. The committee comprised senior officials from the Centre, J&K government, security forces and the shrine board. The apex court had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports claiming a rise in casualties due to lack of infrastructure and medical facilities.

Pertinently, last month, the NGT had imposed similar directions for the Vaishno Devi shrine which is located in Jammu division.

Meanwhile the NGT decision was widely discussed on social media with most of the pilgrims terming the decision ‘insensitive’.

The decision left many pilgrims infuriated who took to social media to express their resentment on the tribunal decision.

Shilpi Tewari, a tweetrati termed the decision insensitive. “NGT is being insensitive and provocative. Surely they know they are hurting the believers but they won’t protest beyond a point. not good. need intervention” @shilpitewari, ” Tweeted.

Another tweetrati Yumm D @mdesai71also expressed her dismay over the decision. “So do the pilgrims make so much noise that they are destroying the ecology just by their voice? And how many landslides have happened there so far? How about creating barriers OR erecting noise reduction equipment like that done on some flyovers?” Yamuna tweeted.

Mukesh @Mukesh62301688also had similar views. “Now it’s a limit of intolerance, now they restricted chanting bell at Amarnath, every Hindu who has faith in Lord Shiva come out and protest against shrine board J&K”  he tweeted.



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