Kerala is the only state in India which does not have a panel of doctors to issue medical certificate to Amarnath pilgrims this year. As a result, people from Kerala, who wish to undertake the pilgrimage, would have to travel to other states for the certificate.
Amarnath pilgrimage is scheduled to take place from June 30 to August 11 this year. Except Kerala, all the 28 other states have already uploaded the panel of doctors who would be issuing the medical certificate on the website of the Amarnath Pilgrimage Board (Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board). Kerala is yet to do so. As per the procedure, the Board seeks a medical panel from all states and each government uploads its list.
A similar issue had cropped up in 2019, when the Kerala Government did not initially submit the list. However, after a controversy erupted, the government took action. Earlier, doctors from around 20 government hospitals in the 14 districts of Kerala were included in the panel.
The absence of such a panel has now forced travel agencies in Kerala to take pilgrims from the state to places such as Coimbatore, Mangaluru and Nagercoil for the medical certificate. The pilgrims – most of them elderly people – are finding this additional journey a big strain.
The Indian Army is in charge of taking pilgrims to the Amarnath shrine, which is located in the border region of Kashmir. The trip starts from two points in Kashmir – Pahalgam and Baltal. There are different routes from each point and the Army is responsible for the safety of the pilgrims during the entire trek to Amarnath and back to these points. However, the Indian Army has stipulated some health requirements for the pilgrims, for which it has made the medical certificate mandatory.