With militant violence up in Jammu, security for Amarnath yatra further tightened this year

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, V.K. Birdi holds meeting with senior officials and finalises SOPs for coordinated security efforts and a unified approach in managing exigencies

Updated - June 26, 2024 07:20 am IST

Published - June 26, 2024 01:07 am IST - SRINAGAR

Jammu and Kashmir police’s Crisis Response Team patrols the streets near the Shri Amarnath Yatri Niwas ahead of the yatra, in Jammu, on June 24, 2024.

Jammu and Kashmir police’s Crisis Response Team patrols the streets near the Shri Amarnath Yatri Niwas ahead of the yatra, in Jammu, on June 24, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

A multiple-security cover to secure highways and maintain a tight vigil during nights was chalked out by security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday, four days ahead of the 52-day long Amarnath yatra in Kashmir. The yatra comes in the backdrop of a flip in militancy in the Jammu region this year.

Officials said the security apparatus in Kashmir has been put on alert and heightened further to ward off any attempt by militants to inflict any harm on pilgrims. Nine pilgrims were killed and around 33 were injured in a militant attack on a bus carrying pilgrims in the Jammu division’s Reasi district on June 9.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, V.K. Birdi met senior officials in Kashmir on Tuesday and finalised the standard operating procedure (SOP) “for a coordinated security efforts and a unified approach in managing exigencies arising out of operational, natural and man-made disasters”.

Mr. Birdi has stressed on “vigilant patrolling and monitoring along highways”. Security agencies have been instructed “to ensure robust night dominations to prevent any untoward incidents during the night”, officials said.

The J&K administration will set a cut-off timing for pilgrims who intended to travel by vehicles or by foot. A structured and secure flow of pilgrims along the designated routes is being worked out, officials said.

The senior police officer instructed authorities to conduct mock drills to evaluate their effectiveness on the ground and identify areas for improvement. The top officials of Srinagar have been directed to assess the high-density counter operation plans in their respective zones for ensuring comprehensive security coverage and timely response to potential threats.

The security grid needs to keep a check on anti-national elements and terrorist associates by generating actionable intelligence, IGP Birdi said while giving directions to the police officials. Officials said CCTV cameras will be installed at all strategic locations.

In the Jammu division, which has been in the throes of militant violence in the past one month, security has been heightened with Jammu-specific measures. The region saw four major attacks by militants in June, which left nine pilgrims, one CRPF jawan and two militants dead.

A special drill was carried out on Tuesday and searches were carried out around the base camp. An identification drive of those living in the area was also held.

“Three-tier security measures have been put in place for the base camp in Bhagwati Nagar area in Jammu,” Dr. Vinod Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Jammu, said.

The police have stepped up area domination, especially on the highway. “All points from borders have been plugged,” Mr. Kumar said.

To thwart any militant attempts, special Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) have been constituted with the security forces planning to secure the high-rise buildings as part of the area domination.

The Bhagwati Nagar camp will be under constant vigil of 360-degree cameras, the police said.

Additional security forces have been posted in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure a safe yatra.

There are two arduous Amarnath yatra routes in Kashmir, where pilgrims scale up to an altitude of 13,000 feet through picturesque tourist spots of Pahalgam and Sonmarg to pay obeisance at the cave shrine. Pilgrims trek 20 kms on foot from Chandanwari up to the cave shrine in Pahalgam and 14 kms from Baltal to the shrine. The yatra will start from June 29.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who visited the Amarnath yatra base camp at Baltal, also directed senior officers of the administration, police, security forces and other stakeholder departments to coordinate with each other for better security and yatra management.

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