The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was today briefly closed for traffic following multiple landslides triggered by incessant rains. Rains caused multiple landslides at Mehar and Seeri and triggered shooting of stones from a hillock at Panthyal, forcing closure of the highway early this morning, a spokesman of the traffic control room said. He said men and machines of the BRO were immediately pressed into service and the highway was opened for traffic around 1030 hours after few hours of closure. “Srinagar-bound light passenger vehicles, which were stopped at several places, were given priority and cleared for travel on the highway,” the spokesman said. He said the vehicles included those carrying Amarnath pilgrims to the Valley for undertaking the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine.
Since the highway has been restricted to one-way as a precautionary measure, only Jammu-bound vehicles would be allowed to ply on the highway today. A police spokesman said 173 pilgrims, the lowest number as far as this year’s yatra is concerned, left the Baghwati base camp here amid tight security. The pilgrims including seven women and 36 sadhus. While 85 of the pilgrims preferred the traditional Pahalgam route in Anantnag district, 88 others would be undertaking the yatra through the shorter Baltal track in Ganderbal district.
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The 40-day yatra commenced from the twin routes on June 29 and so far over 2.54 lakh pilgrims have paid their obeisance at the cave shrine. Besides Katra, the highway towns of Udhampur and Ramban have been lashed by rains since last evening, he said. The spokesman said Jammu city recorded 17 mm of rainfall since last evening.