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Bad weather hits Amarnath Yatra

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | July 16, 2003 12:25 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Wednesday stopped 4,000 Amarnath Yatris in view of inclement weather and heavy rush.

"We have not allowed any pilgrims to proceed to the base camp at Pahalgam. The pilgrims who were scheduled to proceed on the yatra have been lodged in 26 lodgement centres in Jammu," said Farooq Ahmad, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jammu Range.

He said 3,600 pilgrims, who are reaching Kathua in Jammu on Wednesday, would be lodged in makeshift camps set up by the government.

"All this is being done to ensure the safety of pilgrims as the treacherous mountain trek has an unenviable record of cloud bursts and landslides."

For the thousands of security personnel along the trekking route, it is a twin battle -- one against inclement weather and the other against 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 safety. These pilgrims have reached Srinagar and Jammu ahead of schedule... majority of them have jumped the queue," said an official in Pahalgam.

There are also hundreds of unregistered pilgrims who have joined the caravans proceeding towards the shrine.

"It is very difficult to stop the unregistered pilgrims. We are trying to clear the rush along the trek and then only we will allow fresh batches to proceed," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"The weather along the trek is cloudy and it was raining at Chandanwari this morning," he added.

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