The Hush Post: A forest fire in the Trikuta Hills which falls on the way to Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu has led to suspension of the pilgrimage of thousands of people who are now stranded in Katra. The pilgrimage was suspended for the second consecutive day on Thursday, police said.
The Fire Department has deployed helicopters to douse the flames and trenches have been dug to prevent the fire from spreading out.
“The blaze has been contained to a large extent. For the safety of the pilgrims, the passage to the shrine will only be permitted after the blaze is completely put out,” the official added.
Deputy Commissioner Reasi P Ramaswamy G said that the yatra has been suspended on the new battery car track while pilgrims who are already near the shrine are being allowed to use the traditional old track. New registration slips are not being issued.The forest fire broke out around 2 pm on Wednesday after which the forward journey of pilgrims was suspended on Wednesday afternoon itself.
Around 25,000 pilgrims were stranded at the Katra base camp on Wednesday for clearance to start the uphill trek to the shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district. Helicopter services have resumed but all do not avail the facility due to monetary constraints.
The suspension left 10,000 pilgrims stranded in Katra base camp while another 3,000, part of the 25,000 pilgrims who were registered by 3:30 pm for the day’s trek on Wednesday, were moved to safer place near Himkoti Marg.