A large number of pilgrims have shown interest in visiting the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, notwithstanding the continuing unrest in the Kashmir Valley, officials said. The number of people who have enrolled with the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board for the annual pilgrimage, which will begin on June 29, is almost the same as the last year, they said.
Despite the unrest, there has been no drop in the enrollment of pilgrims, an official said. More than 2.20 lakh pilgrims had offered prayers at the naturally formed ice-Shivling last year. The shrine, located at an altitude of 3,888 metre, is 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.
The Amarnath yatra will conclude on August 7. Jammu and Kashmir has seen protests and violence since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani in July last year. There was massive violence during the April nine bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat in which eight people lost their lives in more than 200 incidents.
The Election Commission had also cancelled the May 25 bypoll to Anantnag Lok Sabha seat, saying the situation there was not feasible for holding election. A young Kashmiri Army officer was killed by militants two days ago.
The Union Home Ministry will soon hold a meeting with state government and security agencies to put in place elaborate security arrangements for the pilgrimage. Around 20,000 central paramilitary personnel besides the state police force will be deployed for ensuring security of the pilgrims.