The annual Amarnath pilgrimage to the ancient holy cave in Jammu & Kashmir, scheduled to begin on June 28, will take place under a huge police and paramilitary presence amidst fears of terrorist attacks.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde claimed there was a terror threat to the pilgrimage and said the government would ensure the pilgrims’ security.
“There is a terror threat to Amarnath Yatra. All efforts will be made to ensure the security of every pilgrim,” he said.
Shinde said the Centre would deploy additional forces on the entire route to the holy shrine to ensure foolproof security.
CRPF director-general Pranay Sahay has rushed to Jammu and Kashmir to review the security arrangements for the pilgrimage.
On Monday, the Army’s Northern Command said it had received intelligence inputs that terrorists might try to disrupt the pilgrimage.
“Intelligence inputs which we are receiving suggest that terrorists have intentions to disrupt the Yatra,” Commanding-in-Chief Lt General K T Parnaik said.
Security agencies have also been directed to carry out aerial surveillance of the Yatra area and deploy spotters in adequate numbers at the camps.
Jammu & Kashmir Governor N N Vohra, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, chaired a review meeting in Srinagar and asked the authorities to prepare a camp-wise report of the arrangements for pilgrims.
To ensure the pilgrims’ safety, the Shrine Board has decided that only 7,500 pilgrims would be allowed on a route per day and that no unregistered pilgrims would be allowed to cross the entry gates.
The Yatra will start along two routes -- Baltal and Chandanwari -- simultaneously. The holy cave, which is located at an altitude of 3,888 metres and approximately 14 km from Baltal, is considered the abode of Lord Shiva.
The security arrangements for the Yatra also came up for a detailed review at the Unified Headquarters meeting chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Srinagar.
“Considering the security scenario, topography of the Yatra area, high potential of terrorist attacks on the yatris, sensitive nature of the yatra and the high publicity the yatra generates, the entire yatra area is highly prone to terrorist attacks,” the Jammu and Kashmir Home Department said in a circular issued to all agencies concerned.