Amarnath pilgrims stranded in Srinagar in Kashmir

Srinagar Updated: Jul 11, 2016, 02:56 PM(IST)

The pilgrims accused cab drivers of charging exorbitant rates. (Representative image) Photograph:( Getty )

Hundreds of pilgrims undertaking the journey to the cave shrine of Amarnath in Kashmir were stranded in Srinagar as the Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained out of bounds for the third day in the wake of violence in the valley following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Many of the pilgrims, who performed the pilgrimage through Baltal route in Sonamarg area of central Kashmir's Ganderbal district, were stranded near the Tourist Reception Centre in the city.

The pilgrims left the Baltal base camp at about 1 am and reached Srinagar in the wee hours.

"We performed the yatra (pilgrimage) on July 8. About midnight tonight, we were told to leave the base camp. They told us to leave for Srinagar where buses were waiting for us to take us to Jammu," Pramod Kumar, a resident of the eastern Indian state of Bihar, said.

He, however, said when they reached Srinagar, there were no buses.

"We reached here at about 3 am and since then we are waiting. There are no buses. How do we move to Jammu?," he said.

Another pilgrim, Bansi Lal, a resident of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said no information has been provided to them.

"We have not been told anything after we reached Srinagar. There is no information available. We want to leave for Jammu but do not know how," he said.

The pilgrims also complained of inadequate arrangements and accused cab drivers of charging exorbitant rates.

However, deputy commissioner Ganderbal, Tariq Hussain Ganai said the administration had made proper arrangements for about 24,500 pilgrims to leave Baltal for Jammu.

"We arranged 1,700 vehicles or about 24,500 yatris to leave for Jammu. The vehicles left Baltal straight for Jammu and not for Srinagar.
"Those yatris are on their way to Jammu right now," Ganai said.

He said pilgrims stranded in Srinagar must have been "tricked" by cab drivers at Baltal.

"What I can understand is that they must have been tricked by the cab drivers there. We cleared the last three days' yatra last night and sent the pilgrims directly to Jammu. Some left the state by air as well."

"We never told anyone that buses will be waiting in Srinagar," the deputy commissioner said.

The Srinagar-Jammu national highway is closed for traffic as it passes through south Kashmir which has seen the maximum violence following the killing of Wani and his two associates.

The violence has left 23 dead and more than 250 persons injured. 

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