Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission, a PIL was filed in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court stating that as many as 400 pilgrims are stranded at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Katra and that they should be provided with adequate facilities.
Soon after, a number of media reports surfaced alleging that 400 devotees from Bihar are stuck at Vaishno Devi due to the lockdown imposed to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
On Monday, March 30, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court heard the PIL and directed the Union Territory authorities to make sure that the stranded pilgrims are not made to vacate the hotels and the lodges till the lockdown is lifted.
An order was issued to RK Jangid, CEO, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and to the Deputy Commissioner as well.
The news that 400 pilgrims are stuck at the holy site was a bit surprising as the Vaishno Devi Yatra had been suspended since March 18, a week prior to the novel coronavirus lockdown.
CEO RK Jangid refuted the reports and informed that no devotee from any state is stranded at Vaishno Devi.
"Some news is spreading in social media that 400 devotees are stranded at the Vaishno Devi shrine. It is to be clarified that no devotee is stranded in Katra or Vaishno Devi. Yatra stopped on 18th March, much before the lockdown," he told news agency ANI.
The Press Information Bureau (PIB) also dismissed the claims by putting out a post on its official Twitter handle.
"Social media messages claiming that 400 devotees are stranded at the #VaishnoDevi or Katra is false. PIB Fact check: It is clarified that Yatra stopped on 18th March, much before the lockdown: CEO of the shrine board has already clarified the same to the media," read the PIB's post.
Social media messages claiming that 400 devotees are stranded at the #VaishnoDevi or Katra is false. #PIBFactcheck: It is clarified that Yatra stopped on 18th March, much before the lockdown:— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) April 1, 2020
CEO of the shrine board has already clarified the same to the media pic.twitter.com/9zxNXS2dXO
Therefore, it is now safe to say that 400 devotees stranded at Vaishno Devi due to the lockdown is false.