"I would like to clarify to the Shiva Bhaktas who are eager to undertake the yatra that we sincerely wanted to keep the yatra from Jyeshta Purnima onwards. There was no pressure from any individual or organisation on us. It was purely a logistical challenge to ensure the safety of the yatris," the spiritual leader said in a statement.
The yatra calendar this year was fixed by the SASB on the recommendations of a sub-committee headed by Ravishankar. "We (members of the committee) had a detailed discussion in which the state government and the Army presented the weather conditions and the time it takes to clear the path.
"Only after taking serious consideration of the logistics, weather conditions and the preparedness to host thousands of yatris were it decided to commence the yatra towards the end of June, this year," he said. "We cannot risk the lives of thousands of people without any infrastructure. We want the yatra to be safe and comfortable for people," he added.
The spiritual leader appealed to the state government to make an all-weather road in Baltal so that in the coming years the yatra can be undertaken with greater safety and security. "I know that due to the history there is suspicion, but I would like to ensure the people that there is no pressure and that myself and other saints would have stepped down from the Amarnath Shrine Board a long time ago if it were the case," he said.
The SASB and the state government have come under fire from various quarters over the curtailment of the two-month long Amarnath yatra to 39 days this year.