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Amarnath yatra's troubled past

Jun 30, 2011 09:32 AM IST India India

New Delhi: The Amarnath Yatra has begun. This year is perhaps the first time in the last two decades, when it is devoid of any controversies, accidents or unrest. The Valley is also peaceful this summer. A look at the yatra's troubled past. A journey of faith which draws thousands to undertake one of the toughest pilgrimages - the Amarnath yatra, which has countered bad weather, militant attacks and several controversies… The most acrimonious was the land row of 2008, when protests erupted in Kashmir after 800 kanals of land near the Baltal base camp was transferred to the Amarnath shrine board. The state, divided on regional lines, saw violence, blockades and a virtual shut-down for over three months. In 2007, the yatra suffered a setback when the naturally formed ice lingam at the cave shrine simply melted away, attributed to the huge increase in the number of pilgrims recently. The yatra had also been officially suspended between 1991 and 1995 due to security threats. And when it resumed in 1996, some 240 pilgrims died due to bad weather and hypothermia. The yatra also had to deal with major militant attacks in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Last year too, the yatra took place amidst a summer of unrest in Kashmir and this perhaps is the first time in almost 20 years, when all seems to be finally well with this annual pilgrimage.