Jammu, July 14 (Agency)
Seventy-four Amarnath pilgrims have died in the first 19 days of the pilgrimage. This was acknowledged officially Saturday by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the "yatra" to the 13,500-foot altitude cave shrine devoted to Lord Shiva in the south Kashmir's Pir Panjal range.
"Between June 25-July 13, a total of 74 lives have been lost, of which six were due to accidents, including the case of drowning of a non-Yatri, and 68 due to different medical reasons. It was noted that two Yatris had died in hotels, 12 in hospitals and two on the way to hospitals outside the Yatra area. As reported by the health department, as many as 1,85,259 pilgrims received treatment at various Medical Aid Centres and hospitals," said Navin K. Choudhary, chief executive officer of the SASB.
Of the 74 who lost their lives, 53 were in the 20-60 years age group, 16 in the 61-70 years group, three were above 70 years, and in two cases ages could not be ascertained.
A release issued by the spokesperson of the shrine board, which is headed by Governor N.N. Vohra, said that these facts came to light during a review meeting of the board. It was also acknowledged that some of the pilgrims were carrying "fake health certificates", thus dodging the authorities at the entry gates.
Choudhary said that the pilgrims died as they did not adhere to the advisory of the shrine board.
The board CEO also disclosed that till date more than 4.50 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at Amarnath.