Airlines directed to re-validate tickets of stranded pilgrims

Pilgrims cross the mountain trails while moving towards holy cave shrine of Amarnath, in Baltal. Photo: PTI
In a major relief to the stranded Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said the Centre has directed all the airlines to re-validate tickets of passengers who could not undertake the yatra due to the law-and-order situation in the Valley.

"The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has, at the government's request, issued directions to all the airlines to re-validate tickets of passengers who could not undertake their scheduled journey due to the situation in the past three days," Chief Secretary BR Sharma informed a high-level meeting chaired by Governor NN Vohra at Raj Bhavan here today.

The Governor, who is also the Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), reviewed issues related to the ongoing yatra and advised the Chief Secretary to take up the matter with General Manager, Northern Railways to permit re-validation of tickets, provide additional coaches and, as necessary, even run special trains in view of the situation.

Observing that the majority of pilgrims and tourists come from other states, Vohra directed DGP K Rajindra Kumar to strengthen the safety and security arrangements further.

He asked the Chief Secretary to reiterate instructions to all departments and agencies to maintain sustained effective coordination as also to undertake an urgent review to ensure that all required arrangements, particularly essential supplies and medical support systems, were in place.

Earlier, the police chief informed the meeting that arrangements were made for about 23,000 stranded pilgrims and tourists to proceed to Jammu in around 1,750 vehicles. They were expected to reach Jammu by the evening, he said, adding that all assistance was being extended to fliers as well.

The meeting was informed that necessary arrangements were in place at both the yatra base camps as well as at various camps along the yatra routes, an official spokesman said.

SASB CEO PK Tripathi told the Governor that since July 9, more than 30,000 yatris paid obeisance at the holy cave and necessary arrangements were in place along the yatra routes.

The Governor directed him to reiterate advise to the pilgrims to strictly follow the instructions of local authorities and not stray away from the secured areas, the spokesman said.

Tripathi said 1,27,358 yatris had 'darshan' (glimpse) of the ice lingam at the holy cave during July 2-10 which included 15,684 on July 9 and 8,611 on July 10.

Another 5,906 yatris paid obeisance at the Shrine today, raising the total number to 1,33,264 so far.

The Governor reiterated his direction to the CEO to maintain sustained contact with the local administration, state police and camp directors of all the yatra camps to ensure that the maximum possible number of pilgrims undertook the yatra.

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