Amarnath Yatra: 30,000 soldiers, bunkers, drones to protect pilgrims
The Amarnath Yatra, the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine dedicated to Shiva in Kashmir, began on Wednesday amid intelligent inputs that cautioned of militant attacks on pilgrims and security personnel.
A spike in violence in the Valley is already a cause of concern for the Jammu and Kashmir government and central security forces over the 40-day pilgrimage that passes through the volatile Anantnag district in south Kashmir. In 16 years, over 50 pilgrims have been killed in three terror strikes during the trek to the shrine tucked away at 12,750-ft altitude in south Kashmir.
Intelligence reports said the yatra that began amid the “highest ever multi-tier security setup” may be attacked in the form of “standoff fire” on pilgrim convoys. “Intelligence input from SSP Anantnag reveals terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 police officers and officials,” IGP Kashmir Zone Muneer Khan said in a letter to the Army, the CRPF, and range DIGs in the state.
“The attack may be in the form of stand-off fire on yatra convoy, which they believe will result in flaring of communal tensions throughout the nation,” the IGP said in the letter leaked and circulated on WhatsApp.
“The input is assessed to be a HUMINT (human intelligence) and it needs further corroboration,” the IGP said, adding that possibility of a sensational attack by a terrorist outfit cannot be ruled out.
Besides J&K police, 30,000 paramilitary personnel have been deployed along the two routes. The army has also deployed five battalions in the Valley for the yatra. CCTV cameras, jammers, rollover protection structure, dog squads, bullet-proof bunkers, Quick Reaction Teams, satellite tracking and other security gadgets are being used here.
CRPF DEPLOYS DRONES FOR 24X7 SURVEILLANCE
The CRPF has deployed drones at the Bhagwati Nagar base camp— called Yatri Niwas, adjoining Tawi River. “The exact number of drones deployed cannot be divulged but sufficient number has been put in place,” said an intelligence official.