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Amarnath Not a Silent Zone, No Restrictions on Aarti, Rituals: NGT Clears The Air

The NGT bench reiterated that the directions would help in “maintaining the sanctity of the cave and ensure no adverse noise impacts the ‘shivling’.”

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:December 14, 2017, 12:17 PM IST
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Amarnath Not a Silent Zone, No Restrictions on Aarti, Rituals: NGT Clears The Air
Amarnath Yatris move towards the Amarnath cave. (File image: Getty Images)
New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal on Thursday sought to clear the air around its order banning the chanting of mantras or ‘jaykaras’ in Amarnath and stated that they had not declared the pilgrimage site a silent zone and that restrictions would not be applicable to ‘aarti’ and other rituals.

On Wednesday, an NGT bench headed by Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had said that there should be no ringing of bells in the cave temple, situated at an altitude of 3,888 metres in Jammu and Kashmir.

The green tribunal order was faced with severe criticism, including some from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), who termed the order a "Tughlaki fatwa" (whimsical whip) and said Hindus were not responsible for every ecological problem on earth.

However, on Thursday, the NGT stated that “Amarnath has not been declared a silent zone and that silence restrictions will not apply on aarti and other rituals”.

The bench headed by Justice Kumar also stated that the only “restriction would be that devotees will maintain silence in front of the ‘shivling’. The order would not be applicable to any other part. Also, a one-way queue will be maintained.”

The NGT bench reiterated that these directions would help in “maintaining the sanctity of the cave and ensure no adverse noise impacts the ‘shivling’.”

In its earlier order on Wednesday, the court had stated that pilgrims would have to deposit all mobile phones and belongings at the last check post. The tribunal asked the shrine authorities to consider building a separate room where people could keep their belongings.

To this VHP international president Pravin Togadia reacted saying, “We appeal to the Government of India to stop hurting the Hindu religious sentiments all the time for one or the other reason and to get the NGT to withdraw such a Tughlaki fatwa at once.”

Last month, the NGT had imposed similar directions on the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir. It had also limited the number of pilgrims at the shrine at 50,000 a day. The green tribunal had also directed the authorities to construct a new path exclusively for pedestrians and fine pilgrims who are found littering with an aim to prevent any stampede or untoward incident.

In 2012, the apex court had taken suo motu cognizance of media reports claiming a rise in casualties due to lack of infrastructure and medical facilities and had set up a high-powered committee to recommend measures to prevent casualties during the Amarnath pilgrimage. The panel had senior officials from the Centre, J&K government, security forces and the shrine board.

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| Edited by: Sanchari Chatterjee
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