The Amarnath Yatra 2020 has been Cancelled this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. An official spokesman here the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) held an emergency video conference on Tuesday and decided to cancel the yatra “in the larger public interest”.
The annual pilgrimage to the cave-shrine tucked away in the Kashmiri Himalayas at a height of 3,888 m was scheduled to begin on June 23 coinciding with Skandshasthi, an auspicious occasion in the Hindu calendar, and conclude on August 3, the day of Shravan Purnima or Raksha Bandhan.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the authorities to shorten the duration of the Amarnath Yatra 2020 and restrict it to the shorter Baltal route via Srinagar. It was also announced that only 500 people would be allowed to visit the cave-shrine daily.
While announcing its decision on Tuesday, SASB cited the Supreme Court’s July 13 order in which the decision to conduct the Amarnath Yatra 2020 was left to the administration. It said the board was informed that the arrangements were on track since February this year but due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, the State Executive Committee of J&K “has continued to keep religious places and places of worship closed to the public, the prohibitions which will continue till July 31”.
The statement read, “The board further discussed that the pandemic has stretched the health administration to its limit. The COVID spike has been particularly sharp in July. Health workers and security forces are also getting infected and the focus of the entire medical, civil and police administration at the moment is on containing local transmission of COVID-19”.
The statement concluded, “Based upon the circumstances, the SASB decided with a heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s yatra and expressed its regret to announce its cancellation. 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. Further, the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice. Also, the Chhari Mubarak shall be facilitated by the government.”