A 60-year-old pilgrim from Madhya Pradesh died on his way back from the Amarnath shrine, taking the death toll in the ongoing annual yatra to 48, officials said today. Romeshwar Patidar died at Pissu Top, on his way back from the cave to Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam last evening, a police official said. He said the cause of Patidar’s death is being ascertained.
With this, the death toll of pilgrims due to natural causes this year has risen to 20. While eight pilgrims were killed in the militant attack on a bus of yatris on 10 July, 20 other pilgrims have died in various road accidents. Governor N N Vohra, who is also chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), yesterday reviewed the issues relating to pilgrims injured or killed since the beginning of the yatra on 29 June.
The CEO of SASB Umang Narula informed the chairman that 19 pilgrims had died due to medical reasons and 20 pilgrims had been killed in accidents. Narula said in view of the circumstances leading to the killing of pilgrims in the militant attack, a conscious decision had been taken to enhance the scale of ex-gratia relief paid to the next of their kin.
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He said, as per the chairman’s directions, the SASB has borne all costs for sending the mortal remains by air to the home towns of the pilgrims, in whatever circumstances they had died. “In 37 cases, the board had also borne the cost of providing an escort and attendant to deliver the coffin to the deceased pilgrim’s home town. Till date, the board had incurred Rs 14.66 lakh on account of transportation costs and Rs 1.34 crore towards payment of ex-gratia relief,” he said.