The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rain halts pilgrim march

Srinagar, July 16: The Jammu and Kashmir government today ordered around 4,000 Amarnath-bound pilgrims to halt in view of the bad weather coupled with the heavy rush to the cave shrine.

“We have not allowed any pilgrims to proceed to the base camp at Pahalgam today in view of the inclement weather. The pilgrims who were scheduled to proceed on the yatra have been lodged at 26 centres in Jammu,” said deputy inspector-general of police, Jammu range, Farooq Ahmad.

He said 3,600 pilgrims slated to reach Kathua in Jammu today would be put up in makeshift camps set up by the state government. “All this is being done to ensure the safety of the pilgrims as the treacherous mountain trek has an unenviable record of cloudbursts and landslides.”

For the thousands of securitymen, it is a twin battle against the threatening weather and the possibility of militant strikes.

“Our problems have been compounded by the heavy rush of pilgrims, most of whom have no feel of the tremendous odds against which the local administration is pitched to ensure their safety. These pilgrims have reached Srinagar and Jammu ahead of schedule and most of them have jumped the queue,” said a local official in Pahalgam.

Several pilgrims registered for August are already in the Valley, throwing the administration out of gear. Moreover, hundreds of unregistered pilgrims have arrived and mingled with the registered ones, clogging the route.

“It is very difficult to stop the unregistered pilgrims. We are trying to clear the pilgrim rush along the trek and then only we will allow fresh batches to proceed to the cave shrine,” said the official at Pahalgam.

The weather along the route to the shrine was cloudy today and it rained at Chandanwari.

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