Only two days have passed and it is becoming clearer that Shri Amarnath Shrine Board authorities have compromised with the safety of the pilgrims.
The freak accident which costed life of two Amarnath pilgrims early Sunday morning has not only exposed the loopholes but it has also raised question marks over the arrangements made by the various agencies including security forces to ensure safety of the pilgrims.
According to reports two pilgrims hailing from Varanasi and Bhatinda were crushed to death by a rolling stone at the foot steps of the holy cave while they were returning after performing darshan of the holy ice lingam.
Keeping in view the rush of pilgrims at the cave shrine it is difficult to believe that the rolling stones went unnoticed before hitting the pilgrims and resulted in their death.
According to official sources four pilgrim deaths have been reported after the start of yatra on June 28 via Baltal route.
According to official spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine board,two pilgrims, identified as Suresh Yadav son of Kharpallu Yadav from Bedi Borhagaon, Varanasi, and Dara Singh son of Gian Singh from Bhatinda, were crushed to death when two large boulders rolled down the snow mountain near the Holy Cave at 6.25 am. The two young men were killed when they were coming down the stairs of the shrine after paying their obeisance.
Earlier a 31 year old pilgrim identified as Sunildhar Malvi hailing from Maharashtra died due to heart attack at the cave shrine on saturday while another pilgrim from Gujarat identified as B V Bhandari died after he complained of chest pain while he was going to the base camp near Ramban.
On learning about the freak accident Governor directed the senior Shrine Board authorities to immediately rush to the cave shrine to access the situation and take necessary measures to further prevent any mishap.
Chief Executive Officer R.K. Gupta, and Preet Pal Singh, Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board on reaching the cave shrine assessed the ground situation and held consultation with the Camp Directors and Security Officers located at the Shrine. The CEO gave instructions regarding an immediate reconnaissance of the hill side from which the rocks had rolled down. In this effort the CEO received valuable assistance from the Army, particularly Maj Mohanta of 4 BIHAR.
The CEO made arrangements for the bodies of the deceased to be transported from Holy Cave to Sonamarg for completion of legal and other formalities and being kept in the State Health Department Mortuary. The next of kin of the deceased are being contacted and all required support will be provided for their cremation or the bodies being transported to their native places.
Both the deceased were duly registered Yatris, as revealed by the documents recovered from their bodies. As per the Shrine Board’s Policy, all registered pilgrims who may get killed in any accident in the Yatra area, during the Yatra period, are provided by an Insurance cover of rupees one lac.
On return to Srinagar, in consultation with the Governor, who is Chairman of the Shrine Board, the CEO announced that besides the Insurance money, the next of kin of the deceased, after due verification, would also be provided ex-gratia support of rupees one lac in each case, on behalf of the Board. The Chairman also directed that expenditures on the transportation of the dead bodies to the native places of the deceased would be borne by the Board.