GANGTOK, June 24 - China has refused entry to the first batch of around 50 Indian pilgrims who were scheduled to travel to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim, citing damage to roads due to rains and landslides in the Tibet region.
The 47 pilgrims, who were stopped by the Chinese officials at the border from proceeding further, have now returned to their respective States, official sources said here today.
The pilgrims were scheduled to cross over to the Chinese side on June 19 but had failed to do so due to inclement weather. They had waited at the base camp and tried to cross again yesterday but were denied permission by the Chinese officials.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Gopal Baglay had yesterday said some difficulties were being experienced in the movement of pilgrims through Nathu La and that India is taking up the matter with China.
The development has cast a shadow of uncertainty on the annual yatra as Chinese officials maintained that it would take some time to repair the roads and the Indians would not be able to make the pilgrimage any time soon.
�The pilgrims and the liaison officer were told that because of incessant rainfall the roads in the Chinese side had been washed away in major landslides. So they cannot proceed any further,� a source said here.
The Chinese officials said they were concerned about the safety of the Indian pilgrims which is why they were stopped from proceeding further.
The Chinese officials also informed the yatris that as and when the weather would improve and the road conditions in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) would be restored they would be allowed to enter into China, the sources said.
The first batch of 47 pilgrims had arrived in Sikkim on June 15. The Sikkim Tourism Development Corporation is the nodal authority for conducting the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Nathu La.
Hundreds of Indian pilgrims undertake Kailash Mansarovar yatra in the TAR of China every year negotiating the mountainous terrain. This year, a total of 350 pilgrims had registered for the yatra via Nathu La route and they were to travel in seven batches. � PTI