Nepali Pilgrims Stranded in Vaishno Devi Temple for Over 70 Days Amid Nationwide Lockdown

Vaishno Devi, Katra, Jammu and Kashmir
Vaishno Devi, Katra, Jammu and Kashmir

Hundreds of  Nepali devotes and pilgrims have been stranded  at the Mata Vaishno Devi  temple in Katra. These pilgrims have been waiting for transportation arrangements and are hopeful that local authorities will soon make it possible for them to go back home. In a latest report on the issue, it has come to our notice that many pilgrims who had come to the Vaishno Devi temple from Nepal have been stranded in Katra from the last 71 days due to ongoing nationwide lockdown.

The issue of stranded pilgrims came to the notice of the authorities in the post lockdown  phase, wherein they discovered that around 406 pilgrims are waiting in Katra and are looking forward to local authorities making transportation arrangements to send them back to Nepal. Ramesh Kumar, CEO of the shrine board told  the media on March 31st,

“We have no ‘yatri’ stranded anywhere either at the shrine or in Katra town”

But in a recent move, the stuck pilgrims most of whom belong to Nepal spoke to the local media and alleged  that the Katra administration and the shrine board officials are spreading lies through the media and many like them were stranded amid the nationwide lockdown. They made many requests to the local government and officials for making arrangements to send them back home but nothing has been done so far for their wellbeing. They are running out of cash, and it is becoming very difficult for them to survive. The stranded tourists said “ We are extremely worried about our families back home, we have made a appeal to the J&K government to do something for us. We requested them to send us to Bihar through train but we have failed to convince the local authorities”.

They also alleged that the administration is demanding 1.5 lakhs from them to send them back to Nepal.

On March 18th, the J&K government suspended the yatra due to the Coronavirus threat. And it was said that there were no pilgrims stranded in Katra. But local reports suggest that stranded pilgrims have been kept in sanitised environments in the absence of transportation channels to carry them back home.