Srinagar : Three-tier security arrangements are being made for the two-month-long annual pilgrimage to Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir’s militancy-hit Anantnag district.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims would begin trekking to the Amarnath shrine 3,658 m above sea level in the Himalayas on July 1, days after five paramilitary troopers and a Jammu and Kashmir police officer were killed in an attack along the main route to Pahalgam, which serves as base camps for the pilgrimage.
“There will be three-tier security arrangements for the yatra [pilgrimage] this year. Apart from the Jammu and Kashmir police, CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force], army, BSF [Border Security Force] and SSB [Sashastra Seema Bal] will also be deployed,’’ the officer said on condition of anonymity.
The army will be responsible for the first layer of security. He added the CRPF will be deployed to ensure that the pilgrimage routes are free of explosives. The CRPF’s road opening parties for the purpose will remain on roads until all pilgrim convoys reach their destinations during the course of the pilgrimage, he added.
Amarnath pilgrims are allowed to proceed to the cave shrine in batches.
Officials said in all 40,000 security personnel are being deployed for the yatra’s security. They added vulnerable spots along the yatra routes have been identified for the deployment of additional forces along with bulletproof vehicles.
The pilgrims take the lifeline Jammu-Srinagar highway to travel to Pahalgam and Baltal, the other base camp, in Ganderbal district to begin their treks to the cave shrine.
The scene of the February 14 car bomb attack in which 40 CRPF troopers were killed in Pulwama district, is also located along the highway. The attack prompted India to launch an air strike on a terrorist camp in Pakistan’s Balakot and brought the two countries on the brink of war.
The June 12 attack in Anantnag was the first major attack since then on security forces along a key route to the cave shrine. Officials said the fresh attack prompted a review of the security arrangements for the yatra. Officials said the army has been also been asked to carry out daily area domination and night patrolling along both the Pahalgam as well as Baltal routes to the shrine.
Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik last week promised foolproof arrangements for the yatra. “Nobody will be allowed to go near the yatra.’’ Malik has helmed the state since June last year after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was forced to resign when the BJP pulled out of a coalition government she led.
His security advisor, K Vijay Kumar, said sufficient precautions will be taken. “We will also take into account the previous incidents and what happened in the recent attack for our overall planning.’’
As many as 101 militants have been killed mostly in South Kashmir since the beginning of this year alone.