THE MOTHER OF ALL YATRAS
Prime minister Narendra Modi, in his regular radio address, attributed a remarkable Amarnath Yatra season to the hospitality of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. More people have undertaken the pilgrimage in its first month than in the entire 61-day period last year and the total number looks set to break the 2015 record. Once braved by only a few thousand hardy pilgrims, the trek now attracts hundreds of thousands every year. It has been a target for terrorists in the past, most notably in consecutive years from 2000 to 2002, in which over 50 pilgrims were killed and over 100 injured, and again in 2017 when eight people were killed and nearly 20 injured. PM Modi pointed out that the yatra has long been a symbol of communal harmony and said the success of the yatra showed, among other things, that the “process of development is stronger than guns and bombs”. Still, the Centre has decided to deploy a further 10,000 troops to Kashmir to strengthen counter-insurgency measures and the maintenance of law and order, prompting some, such as former J&K chief minister and BJP ally Mehbooba Mufti, to suggest that the government was stoking fear and apprehension among residents. The state is expected to go to polls later this year.
pilgrims undertook the Amarnath Yatra between July 1 and July 24 this year, 2018 total: 285,000. The 46-day 2019 yatra ends on August 15
security personnel deployed to protect pilgrims this year, compared with 15,000 in 2015, and 30,000 in 2017 when terrorists killed 8 and injured nearly 20
pilgrims have died on the journey (July 24 figures) this year, as have 2 volunteers and 2 security personnel
or Rs 495.2 crore is the expenditure by J&K administration on preparations for this year’s yatra, according to a Reuters report
Distance from Pahalgam to the caves via the more popular longer route for pilgrims who walk
altitude (12,756 ft) at which the Amarnath cave is located