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Amarnath yatra 2021 cancelled in view of COVID pandemic: SASB

Monday, 21 June 2021 (18:27 IST)
Srinagar:The annual 2021-pilgrimage to holy Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas has been cancelled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Online Darshan for Millions of Devotees Worldwide will be arranged by the Shrine Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha said Monday evening.He said it is important to save people's lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year's pilgrimage in the larger public interest, he said.
An official spokesman said Monday evening that a threadbare discussion was held with the esteemed members of SASB including Swami Avdheshanand Ji, DC Raina, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Prof Anita Billawariya, Sudarshan Kumar, Prof Vishwamurti Shashtri, Pt Bhajan Sopori, Dr C M Seth and Mrs Tripta Dhawan on the present Covid-19 situation before arriving on the decision.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of the Board subsequently held detailed deliberations with Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Nitishwar Kumar, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Board, and directed that devotees should be enabled to attend to morning and evening Aarti in online mode. He said it would help them to pay their obeisance while also avoiding travel and exposure.

This is the second consecutive year when the Amarnath yatra has been cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic. However, in 2019 yatra was suspended mid-way after Centre abrogated Article 370 and 35 A besides dividing Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5. The yatris were directed to leave the valley.
The meeting Monday was informed that Board has put in place virtual and televised mechanism for live Darshan of Aarti from the holy cave.
“It's important to save people's lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year's pilgrimage in the larger public interest. SASB is aware of and respect the sentiments of millions of devotees, and to keep the sentiments alive, the Board will continue to live telecast morning and evening Aarti from the Holy Cave shrine," Lt Governor said.
The Lt Governor also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol on the significant and pious days like Pratham Pooja, Samapan Pooja. He further stressed that saints visiting the Shrine cave to perform Aarti as per “Shastra” would follow Covid appropriate behaviour.
SASB CEO, Nitishwar Kumar, said, the shrine board have made the arrangements for the mace of Lord Shiva- Chhari Mubarak' to be taken to the holy cave on August 22, when the yatra is to conclude coinciding with the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
The Board has been assessing the Covid situation in the Union Territory and the country. Our focus is on containing the pandemic and strengthening health infrastructure,” he observed.
Mr Kumar said both morning telecast of Aarti at 0600 hrs and evening Aarti at 1700 hrs, each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on SASB official website and the app specifically dedicated for the devotees.
The devotees can pay their virtual obeisance to the Holy Ice Lingam online through the Shrine Board’s link www.shriamarnathjishrine.com/AartiLive.html. The same may also be streamed through the Shrine Board’s mobile based application which may be downloaded through the link http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ncog.shriamarnath from the Google play store. (UNI) 

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