SRINAGAR: Under elaborate military cover, the 40-day Amarnath yatra (pilgrimage) began from Jammu on Wednesday.
The first batch of 2,280 devotees in a 72-vehicle convoy left for the high-altitude guest house of Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas. The devotees comprised 1,811 males, 422 females and 47 sadhus. They were escorted by vehicles.
of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
CRPF spokesman Rajesh Yadav told Kashmir Reader that this year “security for the devotees has been heightened keeping in view the current scenario.”
“Compared to last year, there are more number of forces guarding the devotees,” he said.
Security arrangements for the yatra include satellite tracking systems, mobile network jammers, bulletproof bunkers, dog squads, CCTV cameras, and quick response teams (QRTs) in addition to thousands of security personnel guarding the route.
The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of 35,000 to 40,000 troops, including the police, the army, the BSF and the CRPF.
In addition to the existing strength of the CRPF in the state, the Government of India has provided more than 250 companies (25,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to the state government.
The BSF has deployed over 2,000 troops for the yatra while the army has provided five battalions (about 5,000 personnel). An additional 54 companies (5,400 personnel) of the police have been deployed.
“This Amarnath yatra will have the highest-ever security setup to ensure an incident-free yatra,” SN Shrivastava, special director general, CRPF, said on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said that “all important aspects like security, arrangements necessary for the road journey and base camp, have been well taken care of.”
This year, the yatra will be eight days shorter than last year’s 48 days. It will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.
Since the killing of popular militant commander Burhan Wani last year, Kashmir Valley has seen a spate of militant attacks on government forces. In the holy month of Ramazan this year, more than 60 persons were killed, among them seven civilians, in encounters between militants and government troops.