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Amarnath Yatra cancelled in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

ANI | Updated: Jul 21, 2020 19:45 IST


Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], July 21 (ANI): The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) on Tuesday said that this year's Amarnath Yatra has been cancelled due to conditions created by COVID-19.   

The decision was taken at a meeting of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) to discuss the conduct of the Yatra 2020. The meeting was presided by Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, who is Chairman of SASB.  

"Based upon the circumstances, the Board decided with a heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra and expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020. The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees and to keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the Live Telecast/ Virtual Darshan of the morning and evening Aarti," said a release by Raj Bhavan. 

It said the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice and Chhadi Mubarak shall be facilitated by the government. 

According to the release, the Board was informed that the arrangements were on track since February 2020, but due to nationwide lockdown and pandemic, State Executive Committee, J&K has still continued to keep religious places and places of worship closed for the public. These prohibitions continue till July 31.

"The Board further discussed that pandemic has put the health administration system to its limit. The spike has been particularly very sharp in July. Health workers and security forces are also getting infected and the focus of entire Medical, Civil and Police Administration at the moment is on containing the local transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the Yatra, will be immense. This would also unnecessarily put the Yatris at risk of catching the COVID-19," the release said. 

 The Board also deliberated the views of the government.

"The government made reasoned observations supported by facts which suggested that it would not be advisable to conduct Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2020 and it would be advisable to cancel it this year in larger public interest. This would enable the Health, Civil and Police Administrations to focus on the immediate challenges facing them rather than diverting resources, manpower and attention to the conduct of the Shri Amarnathji Yatra," read the release. 

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking cancellation of this year's Amarnath Yatra and directions to the Centre to provide "live darshan" of the Lord Amarnath to the devotees via the internet and television in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"The issue as to whether yatra is held should be left with the local administration. Undoubtedly, any decision arrived at must be based on law and all relevant statutory provisions... As per principles of separation of powers, we leave it to the executive," the top court had said.  

The Apex Court said it is of the view that the decisions to whether the pilgrimage should be permitted, and, if so, the conditions subject to which the safeguard should be observed, are matters which fall within the executive domain of the state.  (ANI)

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