The Vaishno Devi pilgrimage is going on smoothly with strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs), including COVID-19 guidelines, despite a stampede that claimed 12 lives and left over a dozen injured, a senior government official said on Saturday.
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Raghav Langer said bodies of four victims of the stampede were dispatched to their native places, while the process to send the rest of the bodies was in progress.
Langer, along with Additional Director General of Police (ADGP) Mukesh Singh, visited Katra the base camp for pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine to take stock of the situation.
Langer and Singh are part of a high-level committee formed under instructions of Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor (L-G) Manoj Sinha and headed by the principal secretary (home) to inquire into the stampede at the shrine.
"The (Vaishno Devi) Yatra has resumed (after the stampede) and is going on smoothly," the divisional commissioner told reporters at Katra as the committee visited the town to begin its probe.
On complaints of mismanagement and violation of COVID-19 guidelines, the officer said the Yatra is in progress with strict adherence to the SOPs.
On the reasons that led to the stampede, Langer said the L-G has ordered a high-level probe.
"The committee has started its work and will share the details as the probe progresses," he said.
Langer said the administration and the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board have released helpline numbers to facilitate family members of visiting pilgrims who wanted to get in touch with their dear ones.
The divisional commissioner said bodies of all deceased persons have been identified, and relatives of 10 have already been contacted so that the bodies can be dispatched to their home towns.
"We are dispatching the bodies of the deceased to their home town with full respect. Two bodies have already been dispatched to Haryana and Nowshera in Rajouri district (J&K). Two more bodies were also sent off to Delhi," he said.
The divisional commissioner said the condition of all the injured persons is "stable".
"Out of 15 injured admitted to the Mata Vaishno Devi Narayana Superspeciality Hospital at Kakriyal, four were discharged and the rest are stable," Langer, who along with other members of the committee visited the hospital to enquire about the condition of the pilgrims, said.
He said the priority of the administration is to provide the best possible treatment to the injured. "The condition of all the injured is stable and a team of doctors are monitoring them," he added.