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Friday, 4 August, 2000, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Amarnath pilgrimage resumes
Pilgrims returning home
Many pilgrims fled Pahalgam after the massacre
The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in the Indian-administered Kashmir has resumed - just days after the massacre of nearly 30 pilgrims in Pahalgam.

Many pilgrims fled the town following the incident, but those who stayed have begun their trek to the holy Amarnath Cave amidst tight security.

Securityman talking to a pilgrim in Pahalgam
Security along the pilgrimage route has been tightened
Security forces have put up metal detectors along the pilgrimage route and vehicles passing through the area are being checked thoroughly.

The pilgrimage route passes through the mountainous districts of Doda and Anantnag, which were also affected by separatist violence this week.

Pahalgam, which acts as the base camp for the Amarnath pilgrims, bears a deserted look.

A local shopkeeper told AP news agency that business had gone down since Tuesday, when suspected militants gunned down at least 30 people.

Normally up to 6,000 people pass through Pahalgam during the Amarnath festival, but the number has fallen sharply this week, the shopkeeper said.

The Amarnath festival is held between 14 July and 13 August every year.

Security concerns

Meanwhile, hundreds of Hindu labourers have been leaving the Kashmir Valley.

The labourers, mostly from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, were employed in the brick kilns and earned between one to three dollars per day.

But the killing of 26 brick kiln workers in Anantnag on Tuesday night has scared them and they were worried about their security.

The state's police chief, Ashok Bhan, said he knew of the exodus but could not provide security to these people as their workplaces were scattered.

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See also:

04 Aug 00 | South Asia
Violent 'army of the pure'
03 Aug 00 | South Asia
Kashmir talks make progress
02 Aug 00 | South Asia
Kashmir spirals into violence
28 Jul 00 | South Asia
India appeals to militants
26 Jul 00 | South Asia
Kashmir truce condemned
24 Jul 00 | South Asia
Kashmir militants offer ceasefire
02 Aug 00 | South Asia
Former diplomats urge peace
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