Amarnath Yatra suspended from Baltal route

Srinagar, Jul 19: The Amarnath Yatra was suspended on Saturday from the Baltal route in Jammu and Kashmir following Friday’s scuffle between a pony operator and a cook at a base camp, authorities said.

Authorities suspended the passage of pilgrims to Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district and towards the cave shrine in the morning following clashes in which over 40 people were injured and 300 tents and 10 community kitchens were torched.

Authorities have put up security checkposts at many places along the route to stop Baltal bound pilgrims. The pilgrims have been staying at Manigam transit camp en route to Baltal and some other places.

“All the pilgrims are safe. The situation is under control at Baltal and the yatra would soon be resumed,” a senior police officer told IANS. However, almost all the pony operators and porters who assist the smooth passage of the pilgrims from Baltal to the cave shrine over the treacherous 14-km-long uphill trek left Baltal after the clashes.

The clashes followed a scuffle over some trifle matter between a langar cook and a pony operator. The cook had stabbed the pony operator during the scuffle. The pony operator was shifted to a hospital in Srinagar.

State Forest Minister Mian Altaf Ahmad, who is also the sitting MLA from Kangan constituency and Irrigation Minister Sham Lal Sharma were camping in Baltal. This year, the Amarnath Yatra started June 28 and will conclude Aug 10.