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Amarnath Yatra Remains Suspended For Third Day, Pilgrims Stranded

In wake of prevailing law and order situation in Kashmir Valley, annual Amarnath Yatra remained suspended from the Jammu base camp for the third consecutive day on Monday. As per reports, no fresh batch of pilgrims was allowed from Bhagwati Nagar Yatra base camp this morning. The Yatra will be allowed only after they are assured of the security of pilgrims in the Kashmir Valley.

Meanwhile, the death toll of the protest over the killing of Hizbul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani rose to 23. Curfew continued to be imposed in Srinagar following the protest. As many as 15 civilians were killed in the clashes on Sunday, two days after Wani and his two associated were gunned down by the security forces in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had chaired a high-level meeting yesterday to review the law and order situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Rajnath had said the Centre is working with the state government to bring normalcy in the valley. In a tweet, Singh appealed to the people to remain calm and maintain peace. Many of the pilgrims, who performed the yatra through Baltal route in Sonamarg area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, were stranded near the Tourist Reception Centre in the city.

The pilgrims left the Baltal base camp at around 1 am and reached Srinagar in the wee hours. "We performed the Yatra on July 8. Around midnight tonight, we were told to leave the base camp. They told us to leave for Srinagar where buses were waiting for us to take us to Jammu," Pramod Kumar, a resident of Bihar, said. He, however, said when they reached Srinagar, there were no buses. "We reached here at around 3 am and since then we are waiting. There are no buses. How do we move to Jammu?," he said.

Another pilgrim, Bansi Lal, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, said no information has been provided to them. "We have not been told anything after we reached Srinagar. There is no information available. We want to leave for Jammu but do not know how," he said. The pilgrims also complained of inadequate arrangements and accused cab drivers of charging exorbitant rates.

However, Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Tariq Hussain Ganai said the administration had made proper arrangements for about 24,500 pilgrims to leave Baltal for Jammu. "We arranged 1,700 vehicles for about 24,500 Yatris to leave for Jammu. The vehicles left Baltal straight for Jammu and not for Srinagar. "Those yatris are on their way to Jammu right now," Ganai said. He said pilgrims stranded in Srinagar must have been "tricked" by cab drivers at Baltal.

"What I can understand is that they must have been tricked by the cab drivers there. We cleared the last three days' Yatra last night and sent the pilgrims directly to Jammu. Some left the state by air as well. "We never told anyone that buses will be waiting in Srinagar," the deputy commissioner said. The Srinagar-Jammu national highway is closed for traffic as it passes through south Kashmir which has seen the maximum violence following the killing of Wani and his two associates.

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