NEW DELHI: Hours after deadly terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims, Army chief General Bipin Rawat rushed to Srinagar on Tuesday to take stock of security situation in the state.
Army sources claimed that local commanders briefed him about the measures taken by the Army to ensure security after the attack and to give a relook at the existing anti- terror mechanism.
The Army has already deployed three additional battalions on the sensitive National Highway-44, the route of the pilgrimage and any decision to further enhance troop strength will be taken after Rawat returns to New Delhi either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.
Apart from three battalions(one battalion has 1,000 troops), the Army has also positioned two more battalions along the two routes to the holy Amarnath cave. Moreover, troops are also stationed on all the hill tops overlooking the shrine to prevent militants from targeting it, according to senior officials in the army headquarters.
The coming days will see the Army in conjunction with the para-military forces and local police fanning out in the hinterland along the highway to deny freedom of movement to militants and seek them out, they said.
Moreover, the counter-insurgency drill expected to be tweaked in the aftermath of the attack to thwart any designs by the terrorists to carry out more such acts on the yatra or vital installations and security forces, they said.
Elaborating upon the move to intensify operations in the hinterland including lesser used roads, officials said major part of the yatra passes through restive South Kashmir and the objective is to deter sympathizers from providing safe houses to militants on the run.
Similarly, the two additional battalions deployed along the southern route to the shrine starting from Chandanwadi and northern route from Baltal are instructed to be more vigilant after the attack, they said. These battalions provide “prophylactic” cover to the routes by ensuring security in the rural areas while the para-military forces and local police guard the main routes. In fact, the same drill is followed by the Army battalions deployed along the NH-44, they added.
The yatra route from Jawhar tunnel to the shrine is more than 200 km and the entire stretch is “very sensitive,” officials said. At present, more than 1,45,000 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave. More thand 3.25 lakh pilgrims took part in the yatra in 2015 while 2.25 lakh yatris took part in the annual pilgrimage last year. The 40-day yatra started this year on June 29 and will commence on August 7.