India. Srinagar, Kashmir. Due to COVID-19, the annual Amarnath Yatra has been canceled after multiple attempts to reschedule.
It was initially proposed to commence on 23 June 2020 for 45 days from the twin tracks of Pahalgam and Sonemarg in Kashmir. Later on, this was shortened and rescheduled to start on 21 July 2020 and end on 3 August 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
During a recent meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), chaired by Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu, it was decided to cancel 2020’s pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine. This decision was made in the wake of the closure of religious places in Jammu and Kashmir due to COVID-19 and security reasons.
However, it was decided in the meeting to continue with the live telecast/virtual darshan of the morning and evening prayers from the holy cave. The board also chose to carry out all the traditional rituals and have the government facilitate the Chhadi Mubarak (the Holy Mace).
Security concerns. Another major reason for the cancellation is the total focus of the Indian army on the increased threat and heightening tensions on the Line of Actual Control(LAC) in Ladakh.
Indian Army jawans are a major part of the security arrangements during the yatra. Every year, over 40,000 jawans of the Jammu & Kashmir Police, Army, and paramilitary forces are deployed to secure the route to the cave.
The cancellation of the yatra will enable the health, civil, and police administrations to focus on the immediate challenges facing them rather than diverting resources, manpower, and attention to the conduct of the Shri Amarnath Yatra.
It is important to note the yatra was curtailed last year too due to political unrest in the region.