Jammu, June 28 (Agency)
Unregistered pilgrims for the annual Amarnath yatra in the Jammu and Kashmir Himalayas are causing massive problems for the registered pilgrims and for the authorities, resulting in chaos, an official said.
According to the official, the unregistered pilgrims come with the deliberate intention to make the yatra without a requisite permit.
Although the official figures released by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) showed over 31,000 pilgrims visiting the shrine, the police records show more than 60,000 pilgrims having visited the shrine.
"The mess has been created by the mismanagement, SASB's guidelines for the pilgrims is to register themselves before embarking on the journey, with a health certificate," observed 54-year-old Daya Ram, who returned after paying obeisance to the "Shivlingam" - a stalagmite of ice, revered as an icon of Lord Shiva.
Last year, the pilgrimage had brought more than 633,000 pilgrims and till date, the registered pilgrims figure touched 350,000, out of which most of them were unregistered ones.
It seems the calls of the SASB and state authorities to adhere to the rules have fallen on deaf ears.
"We are very clear that no unregistered pilgrim would be allowed beyond the entry point," a senior police official told IANS over the phone.
"What is worse that despite shrine board's rate list, the tent owners are charging Rs. 4,000 per bed in a ramshackled tents.
Community kitchen are running short of gas cylinders, hence people have started adopting austerity measures," said Ashish Chopra of Ludhiana, Punjab.
"We see a deliberate conspiracy in that," he regretted.
The pilgrimage will continue till Aug 2.
The cave shrine is situated at a height feet 3,888 meters above sea level. It has two routes leading to it.
One is from Pahalgam, about 100 km from Srinagar, and another from Baltal, 110 km from the state's summer capital.
Pahalgam is the traditional route of about 45 km but the pilgrims these days prefer the much shorter Balta route.
An ice lingam or a naturally made stalagmite of snow considered as an icon of Hindu god Shiva is the main attraction of the cave shrine.