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Amarnath Yatra: Security arrangements enhanced after alert over a possible Jaish attempt to target pilgrims

"There is a 268 km long National Highway in the districts through which Amarnath Yatra passes and it is the most sensitive area for us. Therefore, there is full deployment on the national highway," said IGP MK Sinha.

With just two days to go for the Amarnath Yatra to be flagged off from Jammu and Kashmir, sources in the intelligence agencies have confirmed that a specific alert has been issued by the multi-agency centre that terrorists of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) are planning to target the Baltal route of the pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir.

According to reports, Jaish terrorists might target security forces and the Amarnath Yatra convoy on the national highway going towards Baltal near Kangan area. There are specific inputs that terrorists are hiding in the mountain regions of Ganderbal and Kangan in Jammu and Kashmir.

The pilgrimage is slated to begin on July 1. Over one lakh pilgrims have registered for the 46-day-long annual Amarnath Yatra which will conclude on August 15. The first batch of the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims will be flagged off on June 30 from Jammu under the strict vigil of security forces with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) patrolling the area along the route. The Centre has deployed as many as 40,000 security personnel as part of its multi-tier security arrangement.

“There is a 268 km long National Highway in the districts through which Amarnath Yatra passes and it is the most sensitive area for us. Therefore, there is full deployment on the national highway,” said IGP MK Sinha.

The IGP further divulged that “The highways have been divided into zones and sectors where all zones have a gazetted officer deployed and all sectors have a non-gazetted officer. In Jammu specifically, gazetted officers have been deployed even in sectors.”

All vehicles will be tagged by radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags so that they can be tracked, Sinha explained. Moreover, all pilgrims travelling without cars will have bar coding on their registration forms. Drones are also being used by the security forces to keep strict vigil in the area.

Jammu Police will also be setting up check-posts where police, central police forces and Army personnel will be deployed as per requirement.

IGP Sinha also added that six sensitive points have been identified on the highway which will have teams from traffic police, local police, state disaster response force and health services if there is an incident of landslide or traffic congestion.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah had recently visited the state for two days and had taken stock of the security arrangements for the Yatra.

Last year also, amidst warning that about 450 terrorists backed by terror outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba were planning to sabotage the Amarnath Yatras, the security had been tightened. Devotees embarking on the Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir had been provided with multi-layered high tech security by the government.

Safeguarding Amarnath pilgrims have been of utmost importance for the Central government considering the tragedy in July 2017, when seven Amarnath pilgrims including six women had been killed when terrorists had attacked a bus carrying 60 such devotees. In the past too, there have been multiple terrorist attacks in the Hindu pilgrims to the shrine.

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