Over 1.82 lakh pilgrims registered for Amarnath yatra

Jammu: Over 1.82 lakh people have registered themselves for the annual pilgrimage to the 13,500-feet-high cave shrine of Amarnath in the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Over 1,82,565 pilgrims have secured the yatra permit as registered pilgrims through Internet based e-registration and at bank registration counters across the country till today, the 19th day of registration," vice-president and nodal officer of registration at J&K Bank Abdul Hamid said.

He said 94,489 pilgrims have opted for traditional Pahalgam route via south Kashmir, while over 88,076 people have opted for Baltal route via central Kashmir.

Of these, 1,45,995 pilgrims have been registered on 149 registration counters at various banks and 36,590 registered through Internet, the officer said.

The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) began the registration process on May 10 for the yatra which will commence on June 29 simultaneously from both the routes and culminate on August 13.

"The registration counters have been set up at 121 designated branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, 24 of the YES Bank and four of the District Cooperative Banks," a SASB spokesman said.

The Shrine Board, at its meeting on February 18, has curtailed the period of the annual pilgrimage by 15 days.

Traditionally, the yatra used to run for two months beginning June 15.

Opposing curtailment of the yatra, the Baba Amarnath Yatri Niyas (BAYN), an amalgam of some 30 religious, social and trade organisations, has vowed to commence the pilgrimage on June 15. The VHP has also threatened to start the yatra from June 15.

The SASB has defended its decision saying the step was taken to ensure safe and smooth conduct of the arduous pilgrimage.