The annual Amarnath yatra started off today amid tight security as a total of 2,481 yatris left from Jammu to undertake the annual pilgrimage.
The yatra started from both the Pahalgam and the Baltal routes with Governor, N. N. Vohra, Chairman of the Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) paying obeisance at the cave shrine.
The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar yatri Niwas in 66 vehicles in Jammu, an official said. As many as 1,616 pilgrims were bound for the Pahalgam route, 865 were bound for the Baltal route.
After his early morning visit to the shrine, the Governor reviewed the arrangements made for the pilgrims at the yatra shrine camp and conveyed the Shrine Board’s thanks to the state Government, Army, Central Armed Police Forces, State Police and all the other concerned agencies for their support and cooperation.
He stressed the need for effective supervision and round the clock monitoring by the Camp Directors and all the functionaries involved in the management of the Yatra for ensuring smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.
Umang Narula, CEO of the Shrine Board, appealed to the intending Amarnathji yatris to embark on the pilgrimage only after getting medically checked and obtaining a valid permit. An unprecedented security arrangement has been put in place for this year’s yatra based on the threat perception.
Pertinently, satellite tracking system, drones, mobile bunker vehicles and road opening parties (ROPs) along the route from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal are some of the security measures put in place. The Centre has provided an additional 40,000 paramilitary forces to assist the state government for peaceful conduct of the yatra.
The army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the state police are providing multi-layered security to the pilgrims. Heavily fortified security force camps have been established both at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps.
It takes a pilgrim just one day to return back to the Baltal base camp after the ‘darshan’. However, it takes four days for the one-way passage from Pahalgam to the cave shrine. The distance from Baltal to the cave is 14 km while that from Pahalgam to the shrine is 46 km.
The 40-day long yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district would end on 7 August.
Earlier Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, said that elaborate security and logistic arrangements have been put in place by the government for the peaceful conduct of yatra. He said that the all requisite facilities will be provided to the pilgrims for their comfortable stay during the yatra.
Notably, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone Munir Ahmad chaired a high level meeting of senior officers of police, para-military, Army, intelligence at Pahalgam in Anantnag and took stock of the security arrangements made for ensuing Amarnath yatra. He also visited all camps planned for yatra from Qazigund to Pahalgam and took stock their security arrangements. IGP stressed for greater synergy among all security agencies to ensure smooth and peaceful yatra.
He emphasized the officers present in the meeting to mobilize their field agencies for maintaining close coordination and intelligence gathering so that “appropriate steps are taken well in advance to ensure safety of the pilgrims and all the stakeholders associated with the yatra.’’ He said that safety of the yatris should be prime concern of the authorities and stressed for conducting of frequent joint meetings of different security agencies to discuss various issues regarding its smooth conduct.