Vaishno Devi pilgrim dies in Reasi; fresh Amarnath batch leaves for Kashmir

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Jammu: An 85-year-old pilgrim died near the Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, while a fresh batch of 1,753 pilgrims today left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp for the valley to perform the annual Amarnath Yatra, officials said.

The pilgrim, Udhay Ram Agarwal from Odissa, was returning from the shrine when he suddenly fell unconscious near Battery point along the new track last night, they said.

The officials said he was shifted to the nearby Bhawan dispensary but was declared brought dead by doctors.

Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 1,753 pilgrims, including 369 women and 50 sadhus, left the base camp in Jammu to join the ongoing yatra to the 3,880-metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, they said.

They said the pilgrims left in a convoy of 56 vehicles under tight security.

While 1,152 pilgrims, including 175 women and 50 sadhus, opted for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track, 601 pilgrims are performing the yatra via the shortest 12-km Baltal route, the officials said.

The 60-day yatra began from the twin routes of Baltal in Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in Anantnag district on June 28 and is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival.

A group of 7,665 pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine yesterday, taking the number of pilgrims who had the ‘darshan’ of the naturally formed ice-shivlingam till last evening to more than 2.16 lakh. PTI