A multi-cordon security blanket will be thrown to thwart any terrorist plot during the two-month-long Amarnath Yatra beginning July 1.
The Yatra to the cave, which houses the naturally-formed ice Shivlingam at a height of 3,880 metres in the south Kashmir Himalayas, is expected to draw nearly four lakh pilgrims from across the country.
“Fidayeen or no fidayeen, we will ensure that the Yatra takes place peacefully. If militants try to disturb peace, we will hunt them down,” Inspector General (Kashmir) of CRPF P. V. K. Reddy told a visiting group of journalists.
The multi—cordon security blanket will be thrown along the Yatra route. While the Indian Army is to man the heights to prevent any infiltration from the mountains, BSF personnel will guard the trek route. The safety of the camps put up for the pilgrims for night halts will be handled by CRPF jawans.
“The idea is that even if terrorists breach one cordon, they will be checkmated by one of the remaining two,” Mr. Reddy said.
The arduous trek in hostile terrain to pay obeisance at the cave shrine of Amarnath has been considered an expression of unity and traditional secular values since time immemorial in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Home Ministry is also expected to send some additional forces to the state during the Yatra to augment the strength of the security personnel currently posted there.
Last year, 67 companies (about 6700 personnel) of central paramilitary forces (CRPF —— 40 companies, BSF —— 27) were deployed for the Yatra. Besides, the state police had deployed their own forces.
“Despite a large number of attempts to infiltrate and disrupt the Yatra last year, security forces were able to ensure that it was not disturbed and that all the pilgrims were safe,” CRPF spokesperson Prabhakar Tripathi said.
Amarnath pilgrimages in the last few years have been largely free of violence primarily due to the security arrangements made along the entire route assisted by dog squads and latest technology like unmanned aerial vehicles.
However, in 2008, the pilgrimage was engulfed in turmoil with both Jammu as well as Kashmir regions holding rallies and protests over the controversial transfer of land to Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which is responsible for conducting the Yatra.
The protests also acquired political colour with various parties openly coming out either in support or against the allotment of over 40 hectares of land to the Board.