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Amarnath yatra: First batch flagged off

Jammu and Kashmir Minister for Tourism Ghulam Ahmad Mir on Friday flagged off the first batch comprising 1,160 Amarnath yatris from Jammu base camp to the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

"The pilgrims comprising 957 men, 187 women and 16 children was flagged off by the Minister for Tourism Ghulam Ahmad Mir from Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu this morning," said a government official.

Police said that a total of 42 vehicles, including 23 buses and 19 Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) left the yatri niwas at around 5:30 am on Friday. The cavalcade of pilgrims has already reached d Kud in Udhampur district.

The government has made elaborate security arrangements for a safe and secure yatra. Security personnel have been deployed across the yatra route to ensure the safety of the devotees.

All vehicles coming into the state are checked at Lakhanpur in Kathua district as a safety measure. Sources said that majority of pilgrims would undertake yatra to the cave shrine through Baltal route as Pahalgam route is still covered by ice and officials are busy clearing this route from ice.

The pilgrims have been asked by the Amarnath Shrine Board to undertake the journey via Baltal route till snow is cleared at various spots from Pahalgam to Amarnath route. The shrine board is headed by Governor NN Vohra.