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No Vaishno Devi pilgrim stranded at Katra, clarifies Shrine board

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New Delhi, Mar 31: The Vaishno Devi Shrine Board on Tuesday, denied rumours that around 400 pilgrims are stranded at the temple. The board clarified that no devotee is currently stranded in Katra or at the Vaishno Devi shrine.

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"Some news is spreading in social media that 400 devotees are stranded at the Vaishno Devi shrine. It is clarified that no devotee is stranded in Katra or Vaishno Devi. Yatra stopped on 18th March, much before the lockdown," RK Jangid, CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, told news agency ANI.

Earlier, reports were rife that 400 devotees were stranded in Jammu due to the ongoing countrywide lockdown.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed the Union Territory authorities to ensure that around 400 pilgrims from Bihar, stranded at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, are not vacated from the hotels and are provided with adequate facilities during the nationwide lockdown to combat coronavirus.

In a first for the high court, the chief justice and Justice Sindhu Sharma heard the PIL from their respective residences and Kohli and two more lawyers gave their observations through video-conferencing, an intiative taken in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the 11-page order issued after the hearing, the judges took note of Kohli who had submitted that because of the sudden lockdown about 400 pilgrims from Bihar are stranded at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra.

Kohli also submitted that these pilgrims are being asked to vacate their current lodgings and that immediate steps need to be taken in view of current lockdown in the Union Territory.

The order said that a direction is issued to the Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, and the Deputy Commissioner, Reasi to ensure that these pilgrims are not asked to vacate their current lodgings and their needs are fully provided for till such time as the lockdown persists.

Vaishno Devi is one of the most important shrines in the country as thousands of pilgrims visit the valley every year.

On March 24, PM Modi imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown to combat the coronavirus outbreak. All the public transport, non-essential vehicular movement was suspended across the country until April 14.

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