The Amarnath Yatra 2020 has been cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, a statement issued by the Raj Bhavan said on Tuesday.
The statement said that the Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board (SASB) has decided with a heavy heart that it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year's Amarnath Yatra and expressed its regret while announcing the cancellation of the same.
"The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees. To keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board shall continue live telecast/virtual darshan of the morning and evening aarti. Further, the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice. Also, the Chhadi Mubarak shall be facilitated by the government," the statement read.
Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, Chairman of the SASB, presided over the 39th Board meeting on Tuesday in which the members participated through video conferencing to discuss the conduct of the Yatra.
The Board discussed the Supreme Court's order dated July 13 in which the decision to conduct the Yatra was left to the administration/government after assessing the ground realities prevailing in Jammu & Kashmir in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.
"The Board was informed that the arrangements were on track since February 2020, but due to the pandemic, the state executive committee continues to keep religious places and places of worship closed for the public. These prohibitions will continue till July 31," the statement read.
"The spike in the number of Covid-19 cases has been particularly sharp in July. Health workers and security forces are also getting infected and the focus of the entire medical, civil and police administration at the moment is on containing the local transmission of the virus.
"The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the Yatra, will be immense. This would also unnecessarily put the Yatris at the risk of catching the infection," the statement read.
The Board also discussed the decision of the J& High Court directing the SASB to take a final view in the light of the order of the Supreme Court and keeping in view the compliance of all healthcare protocols, and standard operating procedures notified by the Central government as well as by the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
"The Board further deliberated the considered views of the government. The government made reasoned observations supported by facts which suggested that it would not be advisable to conduct the Amarnath Yatra this year and it would be advisable to cancel it in the larger public interest.
This would enable the health, civil and police administrations to focus on the immediate challenges facing them, rather than diverting resources, manpower and attention to the conduct of the Yatra," the statement read.