Srinagar: In view of the threat of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the annual Amarnath Yatra started today amid unprecedented security arrangements. The first batch of 2,234 pilgrims reached Kashmir today.
About 60,000 security personnel have been deployed to thwart any attempt to disturb the pilgrimage. In the holy cave situated at an altitude of 3,880m in Anantnag in south Kashmir, there will be a crowd of thousands of devotees on the first day in the Amarnath Yatra which lasts till 46 days.
The first batch of 2,234 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims left from Jammu in 93 vehicles to Kashmir. About half of them reached the base camp in Baltal and Pahalgam. The route via Pahalgam is the traditional one, with Nunvanas the base camp, where 22 bhandaras 9eateries for pilgrims) are being put in place.
The journey started with the tradition of Mangal Aarti, worshipping Lord Shiva.
Foolproof arrangements have been made to counter any misadventure by terrorists. The Indian Army, CRPF, BSF and other paramilitary forces are deployed on the national highway. While security arrangements for the pilgrimage are usual, Home Minister Amit Shah’s strict instructions to the administration has added to the alertness of the authority.
What is different this year is the use of modern technology. CCTV cameras have been installed in almost every corner and street. Modern bulletproof vehicles have been sent to the Valley on government instructions. To monitor the dense forests, the security forces are using drones.
Dilip Singh, DIG, CRPF said. “For the Amarnath Yatra, we have made all the security arrangements. Pilgrims are coming here with enthusiasm and the government has made all necessary arrangements for safe travel.”
The Union government has instructed the local administration to ensure the use of the latest technologies and gadgets. Every passenger vehicle is fitted with electronic tracking chips so that their movement can be monitored. This is helping also in keeping at bay unregistered pilgrims.
Pilgrims who have reached Pahalgam expressed complete satisfaction with the tour arrangements. They praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for the purpose. A passenger said, “A few days ago, Shah came here, he has made a lot of difference. We see the Army deployed in every nook and corner of the area. There is no fear.”
Another passenger said, “The security system is very good; we are not worried at all.” A third passenger said, “We have come from Sirsa 730 km away by motorcycles for a darshan of ‘Baba’(Lord Shiva).”
After inaugurating the flyover in Srinagar, Governor Satya Pal Malik said this journey happens with the help of Muslims of the area rather than the Army or the police. Malik said, “The government ensures the security, but the journey is made possible by the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir. If we all work together, the journey will be successful every year like this year.”