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NGT clarifies its stance on Amarnath shrine silent zone; says devotees will be silent near Shivling

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Thursday issued a clarification on declaring the holy shrine at Amarnath a silent zone, saying that the entire area was not a silent zone.“Only restriction is that devotees will maintain silence in front of the Shivling. This is not applicable to any other part of the shrine. A one-way queue will be maintained,” news agency ANI reported.Earlier, reports did the rounds that the NGT had declared the entire shrine a silent zone and had prohibited any religious offerings beyond the entry point.A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the Amarnath Shrine Board should ensure that proper infrastructural facilities are provided to the pilgrims so that they are not deprived of a clear ‘darshan’, and the ecology of the area is maintained. The NGT earlier said that declaring the area around the Amarnath cave shrine a “silence zone” would be helpful in preventing avalanches and maintaining its pristine nature.”Nobody would be permitted to carry anything from the stairs leading to the holy cave and everybody should be properly frisked at the entry point. From the point of stairs and the area inside the cave should be declared silence zone,” the bench said. The green panel ordered removal of iron grills in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the ‘Shiva Linga’ so that devotees could get a better view of it and said there should be no noise pollution near the sacred structure.It also restrained carriage of personal belongings including mobile phones beyond the last checkpoint and asked the shrine board to construct a place where pilgrims can keep their valuables. The green panel also directed the committee of experts headed by an additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit an action plan on providing facilities to the pilgrims within three weeks. Environment activist Gauri Maulekhi, on whose plea the directions were passed, welcomed the NGT order and termed it “progressive”.Also readNGT declares Amarnath cave shrine ‘silence zone’, prohibits religious offerings beyond entry point”The Amarnath cave is located in a delicate ecosystem. The directions would make the Amarnath Yatra safe and convenient for the devotees. This would protect the shrine from degradation and ensure it is protected for the coming generations. It is indeed a very good and progressive direction,” Maulekhi told PTI. The matter will be heard again on January 18 next year.In November, the NGT rapped the Amarnath Shrine Board for not providing proper infrastructural facilities to pilgrims going to the cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, saying it could not “deprive people of proper darshan”. The green panel took exception to non-compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 and asked the board what steps it had taken in all these years. The bench directed the experts committee to submit report on aspects such providing a proper path and declaring the cave shrine a “silence zone” while maintaining cleanliness in the area.

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NGT declares Amarnath cave shrine ‘silence zone’, prohibits religious offerings beyond entry point

In a bid to preserve the eco- sensitive Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, the National Green Tribunal today declared it a “silence zone” and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point.A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said the Amarnath Shrine Board should ensure that proper infrastructural facilities are provided to the pilgrims so that they are not deprived of a clear ‘darshan’, and the ecology of the area is maintained. The NGT earlier said that declaring the area around the Amarnath cave shrine a “silence zone” would be helpful in preventing avalanches and maintaining its pristine nature.”Nobody would be permitted to carry anything from the stairs leading to the holy cave and everybody should be properly frisked at the entry point. From the point of stairs and the area inside the cave should be declared silence zone,” the bench said. The green panel ordered removal of iron grills in front of the ice stalagmite resembling the ‘Shiva Linga’ so that devotees could get a better view of it and said there should be no noise pollution near the sacred structure.Also readNGT slams Amarnath shrine board over lack of amenitiesIt also restrained carriage of personal belongings including mobile phones beyond the last checkpoint and asked the shrine board to construct a place where pilgrims can keep their valuables. The green panel also directed the committee of experts headed by an additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to submit an action plan on providing facilities to the pilgrims within three weeks. Environment activist Gauri Maulekhi, on whose plea the directions were passed, welcomed the NGT order and termed it “progressive”.”The Amarnath cave is located in a delicate ecosystem. The directions would make the Amarnath Yatra safe and convenient for the devotees. This would protect the shrine from degradation and ensure it is protected for the coming generations. It is indeed a very good and progressive direction,” Maulekhi told PTI. The matter will be heard again on January 18 next year.Also readNGT calls for Amarnath to become ‘silence zone’In November, the NGT rapped the Amarnath Shrine Board for not providing proper infrastructural facilities to pilgrims going to the cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, saying it could not “deprive people of proper darshan”. The green panel took exception to non-compliance with the directions issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 and asked the board what steps it had taken in all these years. The bench directed the experts committee to submit report on aspects such providing a proper path and declaring the cave shrine a “silence zone” while maintaining cleanliness in the area.The Amarnath cave shrine is considered to be one of the holiest in Hinduism. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims

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J&K chief minister faces azadi protests at burnt shrine site

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pro-azadi slogans greeted Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti on Wednesday when she visited the 14 century revered Shrine of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani to take stock of the situation after the iconic structure was partially damaged in a fire incident.Pyramidal spire and roof of the shrine, considered a masterpiece of wooden architecture were damaged when fire broke out during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot and the was brought under control.Originally built in the year 1395 by then Kashmir ruler Sultan Sikander in memory of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, lovingly called Ameer-e-Kabir and Shah Hamdan, the shrine was ravaged by fire on different occasions and was last reconstructed in 1732. The two storied structure is rich in woodwork and has a sloping pyramidal roof.Soon after hearing the news of blaze news, Mehbooba air dashed to Srinagar early morning and straight away drove to the shrine to take stock of the situation. However hundreds of people shouted pro freedom slogans and pro Islam slogans when she was inspecting the shrine.”Chief Minister went around the various areas of the shrine complex to assess the quantum of damage. She sought a detailed appraisal from the local administration regarding the fire incident,” said an official spokesman.Interacting with the members of the management committee and devotees, Mehbooba Mufti said the shrine of Hazrat Amir-e- Kabir symbolises the pluralistic ethos of Kashmir society from which every citizen of the state draws spiritual solace.Chief Minister expressed her deep appreciation for the local youth who came forward and prevented the fire from spreading. “On the occasion, people of the area demanded installation of CCTVs in the shrine complex, availability of fire tenders in the locality, scientific protection to the wood structures at the shrine and expediting shrine expansion plan”, said the spokesman.Emotional scenes were witnessed when people came to know about the blaze in the shrine. Braving cold thousands of devotees rushed to the shrine to find out the damages. Women wailed and cried after seeing the damage to the shrine.Later Chief Minister directed conduct of the safety audit of all shrines in the Kashmir Valley to pevent the fire incidents. Mehbooba directed installation of fire hydrants, smoke alarms, CCTVs and other precautions to prevent fire occurrence at any shrine in the State.Chief Minister, who is also the chairperson of the Wakf Board, directed immediate start of restoration work at the Khanqah i Mou’la shrine and complete it within the shortest period. She asked the INTACH to come up with the drawings within two days so that restoration work is started. She said money would be no constraint in the completion of restoration works at the shrine, which she described as civilizational soul for the people of the State.Mehbooba Mufti expressed her deep appreciation for the local youth who came forward and prevented the fire from spreading while directing the local administration to prepare list of such volunteers so that they would be suitably rewarded.ANCIENT TREASUREOriginally built in the year 1395 by then Kashmir ruler Sultan Sikander in memory of Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani, lovingly called Ameer-e-Kabir. The two storied structure is rich in woodwork and has a sloping pyramidal roof.

NGT calls for Amarnath to become ‘silence zone’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday has raised a number of concerns regarding the dangers of noise pollution around Amarnath shrine.Stating the area should be declared a ‘silence zone’, the NGT said that the move would prevent avalanches in the high-altitude shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.The green court also appointed a committee to look into the environment protection and infrastructure for pilgrims at the shrine. It has also declared that throwing offerings and coconuts near the cave should be stopped immediately.The NGT also questioned why the extra shops and open toilets had not been removed.In 2012, the apex court had set up a committee to recommend measures to prevent the growing number of casualties among Amarnath pilgrims saying it has become a permanent problem and a regular affair.The court had passed the order after taking suo motu note of media reports of pilgrims’ deaths allegedly due to lack of proper facilities and medical care for them.Earlier this week, the NGT had capped the daily number of pilgrims allowed to visit Vaishno Devi to 50,000. This was to ease pressure on authorities as well as on the environment. It had also halted construction activities inside the shrine.

Not more than 50,000 devotees allowed at Vaishno Devi shrine: NGT

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued an advisory stating that not more than 50,000 pilgrims per day will be allowed to enter the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir.More people found proceeding towards the shrine would be stopped either at Ardhkumari or Katra, the Green Court said.The tribunal also stayed the new constructions taking place inside shrine complex.

NID to give Vaishnodevi a facelift

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After making sustainable products using demonetised notes, National Institute of Design is now working on giving a facelift to Vaishnodevi, the famous shrine in the northern India, which is thronged by millions of pilgrims throughout the year.The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, formed in 1986, which undertakes various developmental activities to make the yatra more comfortable, has sought help from NID to enhance the experience of a pilgrim, starting from signanes, facilities, crowd management.Professor Pravinsinh Solanki, who is spearheading the project along with his team has already readied them.”To understand the issues that people face every day while going uphill, I visited the shrine nearly four times this year. We are not just looking at signages but also focussing on those people who cannot read in any language. So visually they should be able to guide and help themselves. Another important aspect is that lot of people get lost while on their yatra. So we are planning to make colourful patches on the entire route and place boards which will educate pilgrims from both sides.”Among other aspects, our design includes crowd management, weather conditions, transportation, curbing the monkey menace, numbering the steps, two sided graphics, etc and souvenirs. We have a student from animation department at NID helping with visuals and a film and video student to make a short film for devotees.”Later, there will be interventions to improve on lockers, facilitate a better blanket availing option, etc.Pradyumna Vyas, Director, NID said, “Lakhs visit Vaishno Devi shrine round the year. Our endeavour is to make their journey more comfortable, rich and less cumbersome though design intervention. NID will be helping the shrine authorities in the entire totality.”

SC to hear Haji Ali Dargah trust case today

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The Supreme Court will today hear the Haji Ali Dargah trust case, regarding demolition of encroachments around the area. In its earlier hearing, the apex court on July 28 asked the Maharashtra Government to apprise it within two weeks about the progress made by it in demolishing encroachments near the Haji Ali Shrine. The Supreme Court on July 14 allowed Haji Ali Dargah’s trust to file a plea for regularisation of Kinara mosque with the Maharashtra Government. In a u-turn, the apex court ordered protection of Kinara Mosque near Haji Ali, a portion of which was facing demolition as it was an encroachment. Just three days back, the top court had refused the Maharashtra Government’s plea for stay on Kinara Mosque demolition on the same ground. The apex court had also asked the Maharashtra Government to decide the regularisation application within a week and stayed demolition of Kinara mosque till then. On July 3, the apex court granted the Maharashtra Government two weeks time to remove the encroachments from the approaching roads leading to Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah. The apex court, earlier in Apri,l asked the Haji Ali Dargah Trust to demolish all encroachments in and around the Dargah, excluding the mosque standing on 171 sq metres area. A bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Jagdish Singh Khehar passed the interim order after hearing a plea filed by the petitioner, Haji Ali dargah trust which told the court that the encroachment portion should be removed. The apex court also in its order said that no court shall grant any injunction on the removal of the alleged encroachments, adding that if any party wanted some modification of the court order, it can certainly move to this court.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

31 unauthorised structures near Haji Ali demolished: Maha govt

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Maharashtra government today told the Supreme Court that 31 unauthorised structures near the historic Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai have been removed, clearing around 332.89 square metres of encroached area. In an affidavit, it said six structures near the shrine were still to be demolished as the Bombay High Court had ordered status-quo in the matters concerning four such structures. Regarding the two remaining structures which had not been demolished yet, the state government said these were situated on lease land, but the collector had issued show cause notices to the original licensees asking them as to why the encroachments should not be removed. It also said that the process to get these structures removed was on. “Thirty-one unauthorised structures have been removed. The total encroached area of approximately 332.89 square metres has been cleared,” the state government told the apex court in the affidavit filed through advocate Nishant R Katneshwarkar. The affidavit was filed in pursuance to the July 28 directive of a bench, headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar, which had asked the Maharashtra government to apprise it within two weeks about the progress made by it in demolishing the encroachments near the shrine. The court had also asked the Haji Ali Dargah Trust (HADT) to seize the opportunity to beautify the shrine by offering help in removal of the encroachments. The apex court had earlier warned the state government of serious consequences if squatters from a 908-square metre area near the shrine were not removed in two weeks. It had said that the encroachments have to be removed within two weeks from July 3 from the 908-square metre area earmarked in the Bombay High Court order. The direction to a Mumbai civic body had come as the HADT, which had volunteered to remove the encroachments, had expressed inability in getting the encroachments evicted from an area of about 500 square metres. The HADT had on April 13 agreed to remove encroachments on its own by May 8 and was later given some more time to remove the squatters. The Haji Ali Dargah was constructed in 1431 in the memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up all his possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca. The high court had ordered the formation of a joint task force comprising the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai and the collector to remove the illegal encroachments on the approach road leading to the dargah. The petition in the high court was filed by Sahayak, a socio-legal and educational forum, seeking immediate removal of the encroachments on the approach road to the dargah which was located on the sea. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai was of the view that the land on the approach road to the shrine fell in the collector’s jurisdiction and, therefore, the collector should remove the encroachments.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Mehbooba Mufti meets Guv, discusses Art 35A, other issues

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today called on Governor N N Vohra here and discussed legal challenges to Article 35A of the Constitution and several other issues, an official said. She met the Governor at the Raj Bhavan and briefed him about her party s views and the discussions she had had with leaders of various political parties regarding the challenge to Article 35A, an official spokesman said. Article 35A gives special status to the state and has been challenged in the Supreme Court. It empowers the Jammu and Kashmir legislature to define the state’s “permanent residents” and their special rights and privileges. The spokesperson said Mehbooba and Vohra also discussed other issues including the ongoing anti-militancy operations, maintenance of law and order, establishing capacity and outreach for effective implementation of the GST, the pace of tourist arrivals in the Valley, implementation of important development schemes and projects and functioning of the universities. The governor also discussed with Mehbooba the rapidly declining visual aspect of the Dal Lake and timely elections to panchayats and urban local bodies, the spokesman said. He said the governor, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, thanked the chief minister for the state administration s support in the “successful” conduct of this year s yatra.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Terror notwithstanding, 2.6L pilgrims visit Amarnath shrine this year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Curtains came down on the annual Amarnath Yatra with over 2.60 lakh pilgrims visiting the cave shrine to have a darshan of the holy Shiv Lingam in the last 40 days.A special pooja to mark the closing of the annual pilgrimage on Shravan Purnima was held at the cave shrine on Monday morning, amid chanting of religious hymns.It was however a blood-soaked Yatra this year with terror and accidents taking heavy toll of the pilgrims. Eight pilgrims were killed and 20 others injured when terrorists attacked the yatris’ bus on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway near Botengoo in Anantnag district on July 10.Six days later on July 16, tragedy struck again when a bus carrying pilgrims to Pahalgam fell into a 100-foot-deep gorge, leaving 16 yatris dead and 29 others injured on the Srinagar Jammu national highway near Nachliana-Banihal in Jammu’s Ramban district.Besides, 26 yatris died due to medical failures and three service providers also lost their lives due to the accidents.Figures released by Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) reveal that 2,60,003 lakh Yatris paid obeisance at the Holy Cave Shrine during the last 40 days.”Raksha Bandhan marks the culmination of the annual Amarnath Yatra, which is a symbol of centuries’ old communal harmony and brotherhood. I hope this spirit continues and further strengthens the bonds of amity among the people of the state,” said J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.This year the challenges for the security forces were manifold. The yatra had to pass from the South Kashmir axis which was considered sensitive and volatile both as far as militancy and stone pelting was considered.Amid resurgence in militancy, Army inducted five more battalions (around 5,000 men) to secure the Amarnath Yatra and the strategic section of the Srinagar-Jammu highway in sensitive south Kashmir.The Army troops were in addition to 200 companies (each company has strength of 100 men) of the paramilitary forces deployed for the Amarnath yatra. This was also in addition to the local police and other security forces presently posted in Kashmir for different law and order and anti militancy duties.”This year CRPF deployed more number of troops on ground. The security was particularly beefed up on the National Highway from where convoys carrying pilgrims plied. Drones were used to carry out aerial reconnaissance of any untoward movement of terrorists alongside of National Highway,” said Abhay Vir Chauhan, Inspector General of Police, CRPF, Jammu Sector.

Elaborate security for Vaishno Devi shrine: Spl DG CRPF

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Elaborate security arrangements are in place in and around Mata Vaishno Devi shrine to thwart any terror attack, a top CRPF official today said. There is high degree of alertness amid increased security deployment in and around the shrine, Special Director General, CRPF (J&K Zone), S N Srivastava told reporters here. “There is threat in general. There is possibility of the (terror) attack on Vaishno Devi shrine..that is why there is heavy security presence of CRPF as a large number of devotees visit the shrine,” he said. The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer said that a massive combing operation was carried out at the shrine in view of the special input of terror attack recently. “There was an input of our sister security agency about a specific terror attack on Vaishno Devi (shrine). We got entire area checked … But nothing was found”, Srivastava said. The top CRPF official said that there was no security or intelligence lapses in connection with terror attack on Amarnath yatra bus last month in which seven pilgrims were killed.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

36 attacks on Amarnath yatra in 27 years, 53 pilgrims killed

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As many as 53 pilgrims have been killed in 36 terror attacks on the annual Amarnath yatra in the last 27 years, the Lok Sabha was informed today.”From 1990 till date, 36 terrorist attacks have been reported on Amarnath yatris in which 53 were killed and 167 were injured,” Minister of State for Home Hansraj Ahir said in reply to a written question.Ahir said all possible arrangements are being made by the Jammu and Kashmir government with the help of the Centre to strengthen the pilgrimage’s security.In the latest terror attack that took place on July 10, seven pilgrims were killed in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir. One injured pilgrim succumbed to her injuries later.Replying to another question, he said the duration and schedule of the pilgrimage is based on the decision taken by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board every year.The duration of the yatra is decided by the extent of snowfall in the preceding winter and the date on which Raksha Bandhan falls, when it is traditionally concluded, he said.Therefore, the minister said, the duration of the pilgrimage varies from year to year. In 2017, the pilgrimage commenced on June 29 and will culminate on Raksha Bandhan which falls on August 7.”As such, the 2017 yatra is of 40 days. In 2016, it commenced on July 2 and concluded on August 18, and therefore, it was of 48 days,” he said.

Ensure no SRTC bus plies without being certified fit for

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following an accident of a State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra today directed the state administration to ensure that no bus from the corporation is deployed without fitness certification. Vohra, who is also the chairman of Shri Amarnathji Yatra Shrine Board (SASB), directed chief secretary B B Vyas to ensure that no SRTC bus is deployed on long distance duty, particularly across Banihal, which has not been thoroughly checked and certified fit for operation by a responsible ranking SRTC officer, an official spokesman said here. He said the Governor, who visited the accident spot earlier, was informed that the accident had taken place because a tyre burst and the vehicle had gone out of control. The SRTC has already announced an inquiry into the accident.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Geelani rolls out red carpet for Amarnath yatris

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Denying any threat to the Holy Amarnath Yatra, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani on Sunday decided to roll-out red carpet for the yatris saying they will receive them as their revered guests.”Terror threat to the upcoming Amarnath Yatra is a brazen lie and aimed at maligning and discrediting the political struggle of Kashmir… It is our age-old tradition. In future too we will follow this tradition with same spirit and receive the yatris as our revered guests,” said Geelani.The annual yatra will take off on June 29 and culminate on the Raksha Bandan Day, which falls on August 7. More than two lakh pilgrims have so far registered with Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) for the annual pilgrimage.More than 200 companies (each company has a strength of 100 men) of paramilitary forces are being deployed for maintaining the security of the yatris right from the Jammu base camp to the holy cave shrine. This is in addition to the local police and other security forces presently posted in Kashmir.”Kashmiris are not against any religion or its followers. We are pursuing a legitimate struggle for our fundamental rights. Amarnath Yatra is being conducted for decades and the people here have treated these yatris with unique hospitality. People have always been hospitable, descent and received them as their guests,” said Geelani.Situated in a narrow gorge at the altitude of 3,888 metres, the holy Amarnath cave is accessible from two routes in Kashmir Valley. The 46-km Pahalgam–Holy cave trek is an ancient pilgrimage route which is covered in five days. There lies the ice lingam of Lord Shiva that is formed naturally and waxes and wanes with the moon. The new 14-kilometre Baltal-Holy cave route is now preferred by the pilgrims since it is shorter though steep, and journey can be completed in a day.”During the uprising in 2008, 2010 and 2016, people, despite restrictions and curfew, received these yatris with open arms and provided shelter and food,” said Geelani.

Amarnath Yatra: Army deploys 5 battalions keeping in view unrest in Valley

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Army will deploy five battalions for the annual Amarnath Yatra which begins on June 29 this year.One battalion each will be deployed on the northern (the Baltal) and the southern (the Pahalgam) routes of the yatra, an army official said.Three more battalions would be deployed keeping in view the unrest in the Valley, he said.The 40-day yatra ends on August 7.The shrine is situated at an altitude of 12,756 feet and is about 141 km from Srinagar.The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which conducts the annual pilgrimage, has issued advisories for the pilgrimage saying that the people who wish to trek to the shrine must furnish medical certificates.It has said that those below 13 or above 75 years of age will not be allowed to join the pilgrimage.Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi are likely to to pay obeisance at the shrine on the first day of the pilgrimage

30,000 paramilitary to guard Amarnath yatra routes

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Nearly 30,000 paramilitary personnel besides the local police will be deployed to ensure proper security for the Amarnath pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir beginning June 29. The security personnel will be deployed along the two routes during the pilgrimage to the high-altitude shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. “Proper security arrangements will be put in place for the Amarnath yatra,” a home ministry official said. Nearly 30,000 paramilitary personnel will be deployed besides the local police, the official said. The pilgrimage will begin on June 29 and conclude on August 7. The shrine is located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 12,756 feet and a distance of about 141 km from Srinagar. The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which conducts the annual pilgrimage to the shrine, has issued advisories for the pilgrimage which involves a trek at an altitude of 14,000 feet. People who wish to trek to the shrine must furnish medical certificates, it said, adding those below 13 or above 75 years of age will not be allowed to join the pilgrimage. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi are likely to to pay obeisance at the shrine on the first day of the pilgrimage.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Control room set up by authorities to ensure smooth Amarnath

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Authorities have set up a round- the-clock control room here as part of efforts to ensure a smooth 40-day yatra to the 3,880 metre high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas. “The yatra 2017 control room which has a helpline for prompt attention being given to the enquiries and complaints as may be received from the pilgrims was inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra during a visit to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) office at Raj Bagh here yesterday,” an official spokesman said today. He said the helpline would initially function from 9.30 am to 6.00 pm on all weekdays till June 26 but from June 27 onwards it would function 24X7 till the conclusion of the yatra. “Any person seeking information or help or who faces any difficulty with regard to the forthcoming yatra can call 0194 -2313146 or send an e-mail at [email protected],” the spokesman said. He said the governor, who is also chairman of the SASB, also held a detailed discussion with the officials to review, item wise, the arrangements made or being made for the yatra, which will commence from the twin tracks of Pahalgam and Baltal on June 29. It was noted that each of the various facilities required for the yatris are being established, in coordination with the various agencies and stakeholders, within the planned time schedule which had been approved by the chairman in November last year, the spokesman said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Amarnath pilgrims will have to furnish medical certificates

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pilgrims intending to visit the cave shrine of Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir will have to furnish bonafide medical certificates and those below 13 or above 75 years will not be permitted. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, which conducts the annual pilgrimage to the high-altitude shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, has issued an advisory which said that every pilgrim will have to submit an application form and compulsory health certificate (CHC) to obtain pilgrimage permit. The formats of the application form and CHC, and the list of doctors/ medical institutions authorised to issue CHC are available at SASB’s website- www.shriamarnathjishrine.com. One pilgrimage permit will be valid for registering only one pilgrim and each designated registration bank branch has been allotted a fixed per day/ per route quota for registering the pilgrims, the advisory of the shrine board said. The registration bank branch will ensure that the number of pilgrims registered does not exceed the allotted per day/per route quota. No one below 13 years or above 75 years and no woman more than six weeks pregnant shall be registered for the pilgrimage, it said. The specific day on which a pilgrim is registered to undertake the pilgrimage (i.e., Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) has been printed on the pilgrimage permit. The day printed on the permit is the day on which the pilgrims will be allowed to cross the access control gates at Baltal and Chandanwari (Pahalgam). The bank branch shall ensure that the date for which the permit is issued for crossing the access control gates matches with the day printed on the permit before issuing the permit to the pilgrims. The registration official shall issue the permit bearing BALTAL for Baltal route and PHALGAM for the Phalgam route, the advisory said. The shrine is situated at an altitude of 12,756 feet and about 141 km from Srinagar. The pilgrimage will begin on June 29 and conclude on August 7.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

SC lauds efforts of Haji Ali Dargah in removing encroachments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court today “appreciated” the efforts of Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah Trust in removing encroachments around the shrine and asked it to clear out the remaining ones in a 500 square metre area in four weeks. A bench headed by CJI J S Khehar directed that the beautification plan around the shrine has to be placed on record before the apex court on or before June 30. It said the beautification plan prepared by the trust can be accepted and if required, the municipal council of Mumbai can make modification. The council would also be at liberty to substitute it with another plan and in carrying out the above exercise the civic body can take assistance of a well-known urban heritage architect. The bench said the sentiments of the people of the community should be kept in mind while carrying out the plans. The bench posted the matter for further hearing on July 3, 2017.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Kerala: Pictures of women inside Sabarimala temple go viral, government orders probe

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala government has ordered an inquiry into photographs circulating on social media, purportedly showing some women in the Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa Temple despite a ban on their entry.Devaswom Minister Kadakampally Surendran directed the Devaswom Vigilance to initiate a probe and find out the veracity of the photographs.There are restrictions on the entry of women between 10- 50 years of age in the hillock shrine, where the presiding deity, Lord Ayyappa is considered as a ‘naishtika brahmachari’ (perennial celibate) by devotees. The minister said he had received a complaint that a Kollam-based businessman had got special privileges for conducting darshan at the shrine, located in Pathanamthitta district.”As per the complaint, some women of banned age group had allegedly visited the shrine along with him. There are no restrictions for women to offer worship at Sabarimala, adhering to the tradition of age limit,” Surendran said.It is illegal if anyone has tried to gain any favours in the name of VIP darshan, he said, adding that action would be taken to stop such practises.

400 workers to be deployed daily for sanitation of Amarnath

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>To ensure high degree of sanitation during annual Amarnath yatra in 2017, 400 workers will be deployed every day for carrying out sanitation and camp cleaning. “About 400 workers will be deployed every day for carrying out sanitation and camp cleaning”, CEO of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, Umang Narula said. These steps have been taken by the Board on the direction of of J&K Governor N N Vohra to provide more dustbins en-route Holy cave and for proper sanitation arrangements. The annual yatra will began on 29th of June 2017. The Governor asked Narula to inform the CEOs of the Pahalgam and Sonamarg Development Authorities to take timely action to ensure collection and disposal of all garbage which would be generated during the Yatra. Arrangements are also being made to ensure proper medical facilities to the pilgrims.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

20 people tortured to death at shrine in Pakistan’s Punjab

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 20 people, including six members of a family, were drugged and killed with batons and knives at a shrine allegedly by its “mentally ill” custodian and his associates in a village in Pakistan’s Punjab province. Sargodha Deputy Commissioner Liaquat Ali Chatta said that the incident took place at the dargah (shrine) of Muhammad Ali Gujjar in a village in Sargodha district, some 200 km from Lahore, at around midnight yesterday. The shrine custodian 50-year-old Abdul Waheed, who was apparently suffering from a ‘critical mental disorder’, used a dagger and sticks to kill his victims, he said, adding Waheed had phoned the victims, telling them to come to the shrine. Two women and as many men managed to escape, in an injured condition, from the shrine. One of them reported the crime to locals who then informed the police. The injured have been shifted to hospital where their condition is stated to be critical. Chatha said it appeared that the caretakers of the dargah had first drugged the visitors, stripped them and then stabbed and clubbed 20 people, including three women, to death. Citing a Doctor at Sargodha hospital, the Geo TV said that the victims were murdered nude and the bodies bore multiple stab wounds and blunt weapons marks. Police official Mazhar Shah said that the motive behind the crime has not been ascertained yet but locals have said that from last two years the suspect used to visit the area for ‘spiritual sessions’ with the disciples. The shrine was built about two years ago on the grave of local religious leader Ali Mohamamd Gujjar. People would come to the dargah for “cleansing” their sins and allow the caretakers to beat them with clubs. “But in this case the visitors were first drugged and then stabbed with daggers and hit with clubs, apparently during the cleansing process,” Chatha said. He said that the prime suspect, a resident of Lahore, is an employee of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Chatta quoted Waheed as saying that he killed his disciples because, according to him, they poisoned his spiritual leader, Ali Muhammad, to death two years ago. Waheed told the police that had he not killed them, they would have poisoned him too, Geo TV reported. One of the victims included the son of Waheed’s spiritual leader. “Asif Pir Ali was the son of Muhammad Gujjar the spiritual leader,” said a family member of the deceased. “We have taken five people, including the caretakers of the dargah – Waheed and Yousuf, into custody for interrogation,” Chatha said. The shrine was cordoned off for a search operation. According to senior police officer Bilal Iftikhar, one injured witness also said there was a clash between two groups of the caretakers of the dargah over its possession. Twenty people of both groups, including six members of one family, were killed, the police officer said. “We have launched an investigation into all aspects of this case to ascertain the facts of this gory incident,” Iftikhar said. A heavy contingent of police was deployed at the dargah soon after the incident and a search operation was launched in adjoining areas. An emergency has been declared in hospitals in Sargodha. Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has summoned a report on the incident from IG Police within 24 hours. He also announced an amount of Rs 500,000 for families of each of the deceased person, while Rs 200,000 for each injured person.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Amid tight security, Vaishno Devi shrine ready for Navratras

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amid tight security arrangements, the week-long Navratra festival will begin tomorrow at cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi and its base camp Katra in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. “All arrangements have been put in place for pilgrims visiting the shrine during the Navratras beginning from tomorrow,” Ajeet Kumar Sahu, Chief Executive Officer of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, said today. A police officer said all security arrangements have been made amid increasws vigilance at the base-camp Katra and enroute area by CRPF troops. The board has made elaborate arrangements for the large number of pilgrims who are likely to visit the cave shrine. “These arrangements include ensuring proper water and power supply along the track leading to the shrine, sanitation and availability of special fast related food at the Bhojanalayas of the shrine board,” he said. Sahu reviewed the to-date status of these arrangements with Additional Chief Executive Officers of the Shrine Board Piyush Singla and other officials keeping in view the large flow of pilgrims expected during the Navratras. He took stock of the arrangements put in place from Katra to Bhawan for the pilgrims. Giving details of arrangements made for the Navratras, the CEO said the Bhawan of Mata Vaishno Devi, Atka and the area surrounding it have been tastefully decorated with flowers brought from various parts of the country and abroad. All the routes leading to the holy cave shrine have been prepared for smooth movement of pilgrims, besides ensuring sufficient supplies of provisions, food, water etc. along the track, he added. The CEO said that the shrine board has also launched a special sanitation drive on the track and in the Bhawan area for ensuring utmost sanitation and cleanliness. This cleanliness drive is in addition to the normal sanitation activities of the shrine board which include maintaining sanitation along the entire track and various establishments of it.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Over 6.83 lakh pilgrims visited Vaishno Devi shrine in 2017

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over 6.83 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district till March 11. As many as 1.46 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Vaishno Devi via old natural cave route in Reasi district. “During January to March 11 this year, out of 6,83,032 pilgrims who paid obeisance at Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine while 1,46,535 went through the natural cave. Of whom, 49,666 had darshan of the sanctum sanctorum through the natural cave in January, 73,034 in February and 23,835 during March 1-11, 2017,” Ajeet Kumar Sahu, CEO of the Shrine Board said. Sahu further said that about 20,000-30,000 pilgrims are visiting the holy cave shrine on daily basis during these days and the overall yatra numbers during January 1 – March 22 this year is 12,16,908 which is 1,51,006 higher than the yatra in the corresponding period in 2016. “Every year the natural cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine remains open from around mid January to mid March when the number of pilgrims is at the lowest. During this period the natural cave is opened and closed on daily basis at regular intervals depending on the flow of pilgrims,” Sahu said. He said every year the natural cave is opened for pilgrims for darshan of Holy Pindis Maa Vaishno Devi after Makar Sankranti, as per usual practice. However, the SDM Bhawan is authorised to regulate the darshan through the natural cave considering the yatra rush and congestion to avoid any inconvenience to the pilgrims. He stated that due to continuous heavy flow of yatra, continuous darshan via the old cave is not possible and hence it remains closed for yatris throughout the year and opened only for few weeks after Makar Sankranti. This year the Yatra witnessed an upward surge from Holi festival onwards and the number of pilgrims paying obeisance remained more than 20,000 daily. Therefore, the natural cave has not been opened thereafter, he said.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

Children, elderly not to be permitted in Amarnath Yatra

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Children below 13 years in age and elderly persons above the age of 75 years will not be permitted to undertake the annual Amarnath Yatra which is expected to begin from June 29. The Amarnath Shrine Board, in an advisory, also asked women pilgrims not to wear saree during pilgrimage and instead dress in ‘salwar kameez’, pant-shirt or track-suit. Children below 13 years in age and elderly persons above the age of 75 years shall not be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage, the advisory said. It also said that the women who are more than 6 weeks in to their pregnancy shall not be allowed to undertake the pilgrimage. The Board, which conducts the month-long pilgrimage, advised everyone, who intends to undertake the arduous journey in Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, to carry sufficient woolen clothing as the temperature may sometimes abruptly fall below five degrees Celsius. “Do carry umbrella, wind cheater, raincoat, and waterproof shoes as the weather in the Yatra area is unpredictable. Do keep your clothes and eatables in a suitable waterproof bag to avoid your belongings getting wet,” the advisory, circulated by the Union Home Ministry, said. It also advises the pilgrims to carry identity card, driving license and Yatra permit and travel in a group, with “porters/horses/ponies carrying your luggage”. “Do ensure that all those comprising the group remain in your sight, lest you are separated from your group,” it said. The pilgrims have also been asked not to bring any polythene material as its usage is banned in Jammu and Kashmir and is punishable under the law. The Amarnath Yatra is expected to be conducted between June 29 to August 7.(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

KCR fulfils vow, gives Rs 5 crore in gold to Tirumala temple

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seen as a thanksgiving trip after the formation of the state in 2014, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday donated gold ornaments worth around Rs 5 crore to the famous hill shrine of Lord Venkateswara in Tirumala.Accompanied by family members and some Cabinet colleagues, Rao arrived late on Tuesday by a special flight on a 15-hour maiden spiritual visit to the ancient temple.After offering prayers to the presiding deity (Lord Venkateswara), the Telangana CM handed over a golden garland studded with fossilised shells called ‘Shaligram Haram’, and a multi-layer gold necklace called ‘Makhara Kantabharanam’, which in total weigh about 19 kg and are worth about Rs 5 crore, to the temple’s Executive Officer, D Sambasiva Rao, temple sources said.It was the first such huge offering made by a state government after Independence to the 2,000-year-old hill shrine, the richest in the world, the sources added.Later, at the sprawling Ranganayaka Mandapam inside the shrine, Rao was honoured with a sacred silk cloth and prasadam while the high priests, chanting Vedic hymns, bestowed blessings on him.Various media houses reported that the CM offered his obeisance at the shrine of Sri Padmavathi in Tiruchanur, where he offered a nose stud to Goddess Padmavati Ammavaru and a solid ornament to Lord Balaji. Later in the week, he will also offer a gold moustache to the Veerbhadraswamy temple at Kuravi.In a brief chat with media persons outside the shrine, Rao said he came to the shrine to offer prayers and gifts to Lord Venkateswara as a fulfillment of a vow he had made.In October last year, Rao had offered a 12-kg gold crown worth Rs 3.5 crore to Goddess Bhadrakali in Warangal. (With agency inputs)

Tirupati laddu turns bitter for TTD; causes Rs 140 cr loss

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The most sought-after ‘Tirupati Laddu’ has caused an annual loss of over Rs 140 crore to the cash-rich administration of Lord Venkateswara hill shrine for the last three years owing to its subsidised price and free distribution to some devotees, temple sources said. The mouth-watering sweet dish has been sold by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) at a subsidised price of Rs 25 per piece for the last 11 years while the actual cost was about Rs 32.50, the sources said. The laddu, made at the massive kitchen close to the shrine at nearby Tirumala, is in great demand among devotees, who throng the shrine from different parts of the country throughout the year. In 2016, about ten crore pieces of laddu (ball-shaped sweet) were made and sold, they told(This article has not been edited by DNA’s editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)

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