HM reviews yatra preparations with LG, top officials
*Tent City, Wi-Fi hotspots, lighting on travel route
JAMMU, June 9: Union Home Minister Amit Shah today reviewed security and other arrangements for annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas beginning July 1 with Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and top brass of MHA, civil and police officials of Jammu and Kashmir and senior Army and paramilitary officials in New Delhi.
Besides the Lieutenant Governor, Jammu and Kashmir was represented by Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Northern Command chief Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) RK Goyal, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) CEO and Principal Secretary to LG Dr Mandeep- K Bhandari, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh and Special DG CID Rashmi Ranjan Swain.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, other top officials Incharge Jammu and Kashmir Affairs, Intelligence Bureau (IB) Director Tapan Deka and heads of BSF, CRPF and BRO among others were also present at the meeting that lasted nearly one and a half hour and discussed in detail the security and other arrangements for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage.
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Sources said Army will be deployed to man the heights of Shri Amarnath Ji cave, twin tracks of Chandanwari and Baltal and some places on Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankot National Highways.
During the meeting, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said it is priority of the Narendra Modi Government that Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims should have comfortable darshan and shouldn’t face any difficulty. He directed for making adequate security arrangements on entire route of the yatra.
Shah called for smooth arrangements on the route from Airport and Railway Station to the yatra base camp and providing air service from Srinagar and Jammu at night for convenience of the pilgrims.
Directing for adequate stock of oxygen cylinders and their refilling, the Home Minister called for availability of additional teams of doctors, adequate number of medical beds and deployment of ambulance and helicopters to meet any medical emergency.
He issued instructions for making proper arrangements and all necessary facilities for Shri Amarnath Ji yatris including travel, stay, electricity, water, communication and health besides better communication along yatra routes and deployment of machines to immediately open route in case of landslides.
It was disclosed in the meeting that the pilgrims will be given RFID cards so that their real time location can be traced. The yatris will be provided Rs 5 lakh insurance while animals will be insured for Rs 50,000 each.
“Arrangements for Tent City, Wi-Fi hotspots and proper lighting will be made on travel route. Additionally, On-line live darshan of Baba Barfani, live telecast of morning and evening aarti in holy Amarnath cave and religious and cultural programmes will also be organized at the base camp,” an official statement issued after the meeting said.
Shah took a detailed review of the preparations being made for a smooth conduct of the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir during the meeting.
The Home Minister also reviewed security arrangements for Shri Amarnath pilgrimage with top officials of the Central Government, Army and the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the sources said.
They said the Jammu and Kashmir administration presented detailed requirement of additional paramilitary forces from the Central Government for deployment along National Highways of Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankot, twin tracks of Chandanwari and Baltal, base camps of Nunwan in Pahalgam and Baltal besides Jammu and the cave shrine.
Shah took stock of the plans being formulated to ensure foolproof security for the pilgrimage, they said.
The Central and Jammu and Kashmir Governments want adequate security for the pilgrims to ensure that the militants don’t manage to succeed in their evil designs.
According to the sources, there have been intelligence inputs that Pakistan-based terrorist groups may try to disrupt the pilgrimage. However, all security and Intelligence agencies are fully geared up to thwart any such plan.
All stakeholders of the pilgrimage have taken part in the meeting and all issues relating to arrangements being made for it have been discussed, sources said.
Last year, 3.45 lakh people visited the holy cave and this year, the figure could cross 5 lakh or even more.
Asserting that security situation is much better this year as compared to last year, the officials, however, said that arrangements will almost be similar to the last year as no chance can be taken with yatra security. They added that Army will also play crucial role in yatra arrangements especially at the cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas and twin tracks, besides securing the National Highways of Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankot.
Most of additional paramilitary companies comprise Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) while others belonged to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which is deployed on tracks and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Jammu and Kashmir administration will manage deployment of nearly 200 companies of paramilitary forces from within the internal deployment which has been made for law and order and anti-militancy operations. Besides, Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and JKAP will also be deployed for yatra duty.
In 2022, the pilgrimage was held after a gap of two years. It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID pandemic and only `Chhari Mubarak’ (holy mace of Lord Shiva) was taken for darshan though all other rituals were performed. In 2019, the yatra was cut short by about a fortnight due to August 5 decisions of the Central Government.