SRI NAGAR: The first batch of 2,234 pilgrims left their base camp in Jammu for the Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir on Sunday amid chants of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ as the 46-day annual pilgrimage begins on Monday. Tight security has been put in place with over 300 companies of paramilitary forces, deployed in the Valley for the Lok Sabha elections, retained to ensure a violence-free Amarnath Yatra—for which 1.5 lakh pilgrims have registered so far.
In addition to the CRPF troops, Army and J&K police personnel have taken up positions on both the yatra routes—Jammu-Pahalgam- Amarnath cave and Jammu-Baltal-Amarnath cave. Drones would be used for surveillance, and bullet-proof, bomb-proof vehicles would escort the convoys from Jammu to the 3,880-metre high cave shrine in South Kashmir’s Himalayas.
Unlike in the past, troops would conduct the area domination exercise also at night. CRPF Inspector General Ravideep Singh Sahi told TNIE that there is no specific terror threat to the yatra, but added the security has been strengthened due to the prevailing situation in the Valley. Over 40,000 security personnel are deployed and the valley is monitored by 400 CCTVs. Yatri vehicles will be fitted with RFIDs and will also have barcodes.
“Radio-frequency identification (RFID) will be used in yatra vehicles to keep track of them. The bar coding of all yatris (yatris management system) has also been put in place to ensure that every yatri is accounted for,” the IG said. No civilian movement would be allowed when the yatra convoys pass through.