Srinagar, Jun 26: With the first batch of yatris for the two month long Amarnath Yatra will leave from Jammu Wednesday for their onward journey to the shrine located in Himalayas at a height of 13,500 feet, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to directly monitor the security arrangements along the route.
Sources in the MHA said that while the government in the state has chalked out a foolproof strategy to ensure incident free and peaceful pilgrimage, the MHA has decided not to leave the entire responsibility of security on the Jammu and Kashmir Government.
Sources informed that the MHA has asked officers from its Internal Security and Kashmir divisions to monitor the yatra arrangements on a day-to-day basis, and stay in regular touch with the security officials on the ground.
“Given the prevailing volatile scenario in the some areas of the valley especially in the south Kashmir, indication is there that the trouble makers may find the pilgrims a soft target,” a senior MHA official said and added that keeping this in mind the MHA has already doubled the deployment of central forces for the yatra this year.
The official, however, further elaborating the arrangements said, the J&K Police would also be making its own arrangements and also aerial surveillance will be conducted through drones.
Sources said that three-tier security arrangements have been made for the Amarnath Yatra. “As many as 213 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed to secure the nearly 400 km-long Yatra route from winter capital Jammu to the two base camps of Baltal and south Kashmir’s Pahalgam,” one of the government officials said.
Sources said that a Core Group Security meeting was held to review and coordinate the security arrangements for the annual pilgrimage.
“A joint strategy on the operational and administrative arrangements was chalked out by all the agencies to ensure peace incident-free yatra,” sources said and added that intelligence updates were discussed in detail to assess any security threat to the yatra.
The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims is scheduled to depart from the Jammu base Wednesday under tight security.
Director General of Police, S. P Vaid said that all necessary security arrangements have been put in place to ensure a smooth conduct of the annual Amarnath Yatra.
The security arrangements for yatra are a top most priority and police will work round the clock to ensure incident free yatra,” said DGP.
He added that whatever additional paramilitary personnel were required have been brought in and “all the arrangements have been done” for the Yatra.
It is to mention here that Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army Chief General Bipin Rawat on Monday visited Kashmir to review the security situation and arrangements for Amarnath yatra.
After arriving in Srinagar, Sitharaman and General Rawat were briefed about overall security situation in the State especially in Valley by GoC 15 Corps Lt Gen A K Bhatt at Badamibagh headquarters in Srinagar.
The defence minister, sources said, expressed satisfaction over the security measures taken for smooth conduct of the yatra.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra had also visited various camps of the annual Amarnath Yatra and reviewed the security and other arrangements for the pilgrimage beginning 28 June. (KNS)