200 vehicles reach valley, Yatra remains suspended

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More than 200 vehicles, carrying pilgrims after paying obeisance at holy Amarnath cave shrine, which left Kashmir late last night reached Jammu early this morning.

However, no traffic was allowed from Jammu to Kashmir in view of the tense situation following imposition of curfew in entire south Kashmir today, when separatists had called for general strike and urged people to hold demonstrations after Friday prayers against the killing of civilians in security force firing since Saturday.

Official sources told UNI that more than 200 vehicles, carrying pilgrims, left base camps late last night under unprecedented security arrangements late last night. We have received information that majority vehicles have since reached Jammu after covering the 300-km-long distance during the night, they said adding there was no report of any untoward incident.

Traffic on the highway was closed for security reasons for two days after the killing of top Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani and two other militants in an encounter with security forces in Kokernag in Anantnag on July 9 evening, evoking massive protests. Because of closure of the highway, thousands of pilgrims got stranded at Jammu and two base camps of Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam.

However, after high level meetings in New Delhi and Srinagar, traffic on the highway, linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, was allowed during the night to avoid day protests. The pilgrims were stationed at Qazigund for some time before taking them directly to Baltal base camp. No yatra was allowed to Nunwan Pahalgam base camp to avoid travel via Anantnag, the worst violence hit district.

Though there was no untoward incident after traffic was resumed on the highway, it was decided to suspend traffic on the highway today also. However, pilgrims, who had returned to base camps after having darshan of the self made Ice-Shivlingam at the cave shrine, were taken to Jammu during the night in more than 200 vehicles.

Meanwhile, traffic on historic Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region remained suspended since Saturday for security reasons. Meanwhile, Amarnath yatra continued to remain suspended for the second consecutive day today owing to the ongoing unrest in Kashmir following the killing of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces last week.

The yatra was suspended for the second time in less than a week due the security situation following Burhan’s killing. “The yatra which was suspended yesterday owing to the unrest in Kashmir Valley continues to remain suspended for the second day today,” a police officer said.

He said that no vehicle carrying pilgrims was allowed on to move from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu city towards the Valley. The official said the situation would be reviewed in the afternoon and a call will be taken on whether or not to allow the movement of the pilgrims.

The yatra was first suspended on July 9 after the violence broke out in the Valley and resumed on July 11 amidst tight security in the evening so the vehicles could cross the troubled areas during the night, the officer said. Authorities have imposed strict curfew in several districts of the Kashmir valley, to avoid incidents of stone pelting on the security force personnel. The government said that over 1,500 security force personnel have been injured in the incidents of violence in the Kashmir Valley that erupted after the killing of HM commander Burhan on July 8.

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