Amarnath cave not a silent zone, no restrictions on aarti, other rituals: NGT clarifies

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Amarnath cave not a silent zone, no restrictions on aarti, other rituals: NGT clarifies

There is one restriction: Devotees will need to remain silent in front of the Shiv ling.

The Amarnath cave, one of Hinduism's holiest shrines, hasn't been declared a silent zone, and silence restrictions will not apply to aarti and other rituals.

There's only one restriction: Devotees will need to remain silent in front of the Shiv ling. That's it.

Pilgrims will also need to move in a one-way queue.

These are clarifications issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Earlier, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had said, "From the point of stairs and the area inside the cave should be declared a 'silence zone.' Nobody would be permitted to carry anything from the stairs, including mobile phones, leading to the holy cave and everybody should be properly frisked at the entry point."

The bench asked the Amarnath Shrine Board to construct a place where pilgrims can keep their valuables. It also directed a panel of experts constituted by it earlier, and headed by an additional secretary of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), to submit an action plan on providing facilities to the pilgrims within three weeks.

The move, however, did not go well with several rightwing organisations. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) termed the NGT's order a Tughlaki fatwa (whimsical whip) and said Hindus were not responsible for every ecological problem on earth.

"We appeal to the Government of India to stop hurting Hindu religious sentiments all the time for one or the other reason and to get the NGT to withdraw such a Tughlaki fatwa at once," VHP international president Pravin Togadia said.

Daring the court, a BJP spokesperson also tweeted, "I will go to Amarnath Yatra and chant 'Bam Bam Bhole' and 'Har Har Mahadev.' I challenge NGT to stop me if you can."