JAMMU: Union minister Jitendra Singh Saturday said militancy in Jammu and Kashmir is in its final phase and expressed hope that annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath will not require security arrangement from next year.
He said adequate security arrangement has been put in place this year for the 46-day yatra, scheduled to begin from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on July 1, to ensure its peaceful conclusion.
"There will be no need of security for the yatra from next year as the voice of my conscience says that this is the last phase and final chapter of militancy in the state," The Udhampur MP added.
The first batch of the pilgrims to the cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3,880 metres will leave from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here on Sunday.
The batch of pilgrims will reach to the two base camps in Anantnag and Ganderbal districts by evening and will stay there overnight before leaving for the yatra on Monday.
Addressing a group of Sadhus after inaugurating the registration counter for them at a Ram temple in the old city, the minister said, "Like yesteryears, adequate security arrangements have been made for the yatra to ensure its peaceful conclusion."
The counters for registration of the pilgrims opened at different places in the city as visitors including Sadhus from across the country have started flocking Jammu ahead of the formal commencement of the yatra.
"The Amarnath yatra is part of our faith and a glaring example of our rich culture and has its own religious significance not only for this region but for the entire country," said Singh, who is the Minister of State for Prime Minister's Office.
He expressed hope that the pilgrims would be welcomed in the valley with traditional hospitality.
Ram Temple at Purani Mandi is providing free boarding and lodging facilities to the Sadhus who come from across the country for the yatra.
Praising temple mahant Rameshwar Dass for making arrangements for the Sadhus at the temple complex in coordination with the district administration, the minister said the administration will attend to any issue so that the Sadhus do not face any problem.
Later, Singh attended a special prayer organised in connection with Devika pollution abatement project under the national river conservation plan in Udhampur district.
The river, revered by Hindus as sister of the Ganga river, is being revived at a cost of over Rs 1.70 crore. It has been polluted by the dumping of waste and sewage and has also witnessed encroachment on its banks with unlawful constructions over the years.
"We are happy that this sacred project is being undertaken in our rule. This river is linked to our faith and its restoration is imperative due to its religious significance," he told the gathering on the occasion.
Hindu religious scriptures including Vedas mention the sanctity of the river and consider it a powerful source to attain divinity.