High-Level Meeting on Jammu Kashmir; Big decision likely

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha met Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla in the Union capital and discussed with him a series of issues including upcoming Shri Amarnath Ji yatra in South Kashmir Himalayas which was scheduled to begin on June 28 and last till August 22 but in view of second wave of COVID uncertainty prevailed over the pilgrimage.

This was first meeting of Sinha with Bhalla during past about couple of months as second wave of COVID saw the Lieutenant Governor busy in Jammu and Kashmir managing the pandemic

The Lieutenant Governor is likely to meet more representatives of the Central Government before returning to Jammu and Kashmir on Monday.

On 22 April, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), headed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, suspended online registrations for the yatra as COVID-19 cases were swelling across the country.

It is still unclear if the annual pilgrimage will happen this year, but a limited number of pilgrims may get permission to travel in the first week of July. Every year, the Amaratra starts at the end of June and lasts 45 days. The yatra was staggered last year due to the pandemic, and very few pilgrims were allowed to visit the shrine every day.

In 2018, more than 7,000 pilgrims visited the Amarnathji shrine daily and around 2.85 lakh in total. The yatra was extended and lasted for around two months. The numbers fell in 2019 as the government asked pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir on 1 August just before it abrogated Article 370.

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