A fresh batch of Amarnath Yatra 2017 pilgrims bound for the Amarnath caves left from the Nunwan Pahalgam and Batal base camps in the south Kashmir Himalayas, after the recent spate of violence that left the country and valley reeling. The 40-day yatra had started from June 29. 3398 pilgrims also left from the Bagwati Nagar, Jammu headed for the base camps this morning under very tight security arrangements. Officials have stated that the yatra was progressing well on both the Baltai and Pahalgam tracks to the holy caves. Yesterday was the 16th of the yatra and 9719 people were reported to have made it to the caves from both the tracks. The holy and venerated self-made ice Shivalingam is situated at an altitude of 14000 feet and yatris have to cover about 14 km on foot to get to the shrine. Most yatris who have paid obeisance at the shrine return to the base camp while some stay at a camp about 2km from the site at Panjterni, on the traditional Pahalgam tracks. However, many people are preferring to return via the Baltai tracks.
The terrorist attack on a bus carrying pilgrims from Gujarat on 10 July left seven of the yatris dead and sent shockwaves in a troubled valley. Meanwhile, investigators claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough in the case, arresting a J&K policeman and questioning a ruling PDP legislator for aiding the terrorists in the case. The policeman from Pulwama was arrested reportedly following a phone tap, in which he was reported to have spoken to a Lashkar-e-Toiba handler. LeT has been reported as the terrorist organisation behind the attack, carried out by Pakistani national Abu Ahmad Ismail and three local militants, besides another foreign national. The policeman and the legislator make it about 20 people who have been detained for questioning so far in the case.