Amarnath Ya­tra: 30,000 sol­diers, bunkers, drones to pro­tect pil­grims

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Region -

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.


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.

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