Hi-tech security for Amarnath yatra with drones, tracking system

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, June 7: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today held high-level review of security situation and Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) this evening in Srinagar with top brass of Army, BSF, CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police, civil administration and other security and para-military agencies, operating in Jammu and Kashmir. During the meeting, a special review was held for upcoming annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji in South Kashmir Himalayas from June 28, which will last till August 26.
Sources told the Excelsior that pilgrimage to Baba Amarnath Ji shrine this year will go hi-tech with Centre and State Governments in coordination with each other deciding to install sophisticated gadgetry along the National Highways, base camps and twin yatra tracks, which would constantly monitor the yatra vehicles and pilgrims in the militancy-infested State to prevent last year like attack on a yatri bus in which eight pilgrims were killed and many others were injured.
“Tracking system for all registered yatri vehicles, drones at base camps and twin yatra tracks, sophisticated electronic gadgetry and various other hi-tech systems would be installed along Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar National Highways, base camps of Nunwan (Pahalgam) and Baltal  (Sonamarg) and the twin tracks of Chandanwari and Baltal to monitor entire yatra right from Lakhanpur to Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine, located at the height of 5486 meters from the sea level, in South Kashmir Himalayas,’’ sources said quoting the decisions taken at the security review meeting.
They added that this will be for the first time when such hi-tech security arrangements will be made for the Amarnath Ji pilgrimage as the Centre doesn’t want to take any chance in view of long duration of the yatra, which would last 60 days this year (June 28-August 26) as compared to 48 days last year.
The Union Home Minister also agreed to provide additional companies of para-military forces for security of the pilgrimage. It was also decided at the security review meeting that Jammu and Kashmir Police will also deploy more personnel this year than previous year for Amarnath yatra security.
Apart from yatra, sources said, Rajnath also reviewed post-conditional ceasefire situation in the Kashmir valley.
Top brass of security agencies briefed the high-level meeting that nuisance from the militants during suspension of operations was expected and they did it by lobbying grenades and other kind of attacks on security forces but failed in their designs. Security agencies were reportedly of the view that they haven’t suffered any major reverses during suspension of operations.
There was a general view that the people in Kashmir have welcomed ceasefire during the holy month of Ramzan.
Rajnath, who had announced suspension of operations for the holy month of Ramzan on May 16, took views of almost all security and Intelligence agencies on the situation during past about 20 days of conditional ceasefire.
Sources pointed out that extension or no extension in ceasefire after Eid would be taken by the Centre Government based on assessment obtained from different security agencies as well as the State Government.
Rajnath would tomorrow tour Kupwara in Kashmir and RS Pura and Chakroi on the International Border to inter-act with the dwellers, who have been suffering a lot during Pakistan’s mortar shelling and firing. He will also meet the BJP legislators before returning to New Delhi in the evening.
Governor, NN Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Dr Jitendra Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta, Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Gauba and top brass of security and Intelligence agencies, JKP and civil administration attended the security and PMDP review meetings.
The Union Home Minister called for expediting work on the ongoing projects under the PMDP to meet deadlines.
Commenting on Rajnath Singh’s Kashmir visit today, Dr Jitendra Singh said this was for the first time during past many years in Kashmir that there was no bandh in the Valley including Srinagar during the VVIP visit, which was happening earlier as the markets were open today and Rajnath’s convoy passed through busiest streets of the City with markets full of activity.
“People in large number came on roads to have a glimpse of Rajnath Singh,’’ he added.
Rajnath said the Centre has taken a slew of measures for augmenting the strength of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and creating new job opportunities for the State’s youth.
Giving details about the steps taken for strengthening and augmenting the police infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir, Singh said the Centre is providing all the help it can in this regard.
“Rs 174 crore has been given for restoration of police stations, while Rs 500 crore has been provided for acquisition of high-end weapons,” Singh said.
He said the Centre has also hiked the monthly remuneration of 25,474 Special Police Officers (SPOs) in the state from Rs 3,000 to Rs 6,000.
“For creating new job opportunities for the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, we have made all out efforts along with the State Government,” Singh said.
The Home Minister said that 3,882 youths have been recruited by the Central armed paramilitary forces.
He said, “7,302 youths have been recruited in the Indian Army. 5,381 local youths have been recruited in the five IRP battalions raised in the State.”
Singh said the Centre has sanctioned two women police battalions — one each for Kashmir and Jammu regions — as part of its efforts for increasing the representation of females in security forces.
“We want to increase the representation of females in security forces … We want to take it to 33 per cent. One women’s battalion each for Kashmir and Jammu have been sanctioned,” he said.