SRINAGAR: After the Monday’s militant attack on Amarnath yatris in south Kashmir in which seven pilgrims were killed, the security measures for the annual pilgrimage have been further intensified and the Road Opening Parties (ROPs) would remain deployed till late evening and no yatra vehicular movement will be allowed on Srinagar-Jammu national highway after 7 pm.
A senior security official said the militant attack on Amarnath yatris has necessitated changes in security deployment for safety of the pilgrims and smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.
He said although some changes will be made in security deployment but no extra security personnel would be brought to the Valley from outside State.
“We have enough security personnel on the ground to ensure safety of the yatris,” the official said.
Over 30,000 security personnel including CRPF, police, Army, SSB and ITBP have been deployed for smooth conduct of yatra duty this year.
The official said Road Opening Parties (ROPs) of security forces on Kashmir stretch of Srinagar-Jammu national highway and along the Baltal and Pahalgam routes of Amarnath yatra would not be withdrawn after 7 pm as used to be the case before Monday’s militant attack on yatris.
Seven pilgrims including six women were killed and 19 others injured when militants attacked their vehicle at Botengoo area in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday evening.
The official said now the ROPs would continue patrolling highway and along the twin routes of yatra till 11 pm instead of 7 pm.
He security personnel deployed for ROPs have been asked to remain extra vigilant to avert future strikes by militants.
A senior CRPF official said some more measures, which cannot be disclosed, have been taken for the safety of yatris.
He said now Amarnath yatra vehicles won’t be allowed to travel on Srinagar-Jammu national highway after 7 pm.
They will have to travel on highway during the day when the ROPs are deployed and security personnel conduct patrolling and area domination, he said.
The official said if they discover some yatris travelling in the night, they will stop them and send them back.
“The yatri vehicles would not be allowed to operate on the highway after 7 pm,” he said.
According to him, the yatra timing would be strictly followed now and nobody would be allowed to violate the guidelines.
He said earlier there was confusion among security agencies on yatris and tourists but now both will have to follow the timings given by security forces for their movement.
Meanwhile, a J&K police official said investigation into the Monday’s attack on yatri bus is going on and some headway has been made.
“We have identified all the four LeT militants involved in the attack on the yatris. The group comprises two Pakistani and two Kashmiri militants. The attack was masterminded by Pakistan militant Abu Ismail,” he said.
The official said security forces have upped the surveillance and were conducting intelligence-based operation in south Kashmir to track down the militants involved in the attack and kill them.
“We have got some vital clues on their movement and it was a matter of days before we get them,” he added.
The official said the UP resident Sandip Kumar, who was earlier this week arrested for his links with Lashkar-eToiba, was also questioned by security officials to know whether the attack on yatris was pre-planned or whether he had any information about it.
“He was also quizzed to know more details about Abu Ismail, who is No 2 in Lashkar hierarchy in Kashmir,” he said.
The attack on yatris has outraged Valley with mainstream and separatist groups and religious, social and trade organizations and civil society groups strongly condemning the attack.
Even the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba accused of attack on yatris and Pakistan administered Kashmir-based militant conglomerate United Jehad Council led by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salah-ud-Din have condemned the attack on Amarnath pilgrims.