Editor's note: With Jammu and Kashmir under Governor's Rule for the eighth time, Firstpost will run a series of reported pieces, analytical articles and commentary to track the progress of events in the state.
Srinagar: Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the 60-day long Amarnath Yatra, which is set to begin on 28 June.
A joint deployment of army, central reserve police force (CRPF) and police personnel has been made available along the route and at the designated halt points for the yatris, a week before the Hindu pilgrimage begins in Kashmir.
CRPF and police forces have also been stationed at the base camps at Baltal in Sonmarg and Nunwan in Pahalgam, officials said. The corridor protection by way of patrolling along the roads has been entrusted to the Indian Army, a top police official said.
As many as 200 companies of CRPF have been deployed for the yatra and the police and army are also carrying out regular patrolling on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which traverses through the volatile south Kashmir areas of Anantnag and Pulwama, to ensure a smooth pilgrimage.
Director General of Police, SP Vaid, said that adequate security arrangements have been made for the Amarnath Yatra. The state administration has set up 35 camps where the yatris will halt before proceeding to the cave shrine in the Himalayas from the two routes of Baltal and Nunwan.
The civil government officials deputed in the area are being assisted by police officers of the rank of deputy superintendent of police (DySP), to oversee the yatra.
A senior civil administration official said that camps have been set up at both Baltal and Nunwan as well as along the route that takes yatris to the cave shrine. He said that the pilgrims are made to halt at the Baltal base camp and the entire yatra gets completed in one day, while many camps have been erected along the Nunwan route, as it takes at least four days to complete the pilgrimage via this route.
The security agencies are wary that in view of the regular protests which are being undertaken by the youth in favour of freedom in south Kashmir areas of Anantnag and Pahalgam, which form the route of the yatra, the pilgrimage could get disrupted.
Governor NN Vohra, in a recent meeting, asked the police and civil administration officials to maintain a state of high alert and the officials deployed at the different camps were asked to "stay vigilant at different places around the yatra route". The deployment of the civil government officials started from 18 June at the camps and the officers have been asked to inform the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) control room about any untoward incident.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir range, Vidhi Kumar Birdi, said, "We have stationed the personnel for the yatra. We are also erecting closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) as per the functional requirement."
He said that the army will "be involved in corridor protection, for rescue and heli-services. This is a combined effort by the army, police and the CRPF."
Rishi Kumar, additional camp director, Sheshnag, said that "the camp has been already set up". He said the officials and the government forces have been deployed since the last three days.
On Thursday, the DIG Birdi visited Baltal to review the security arrangements and "stressed on having close coordination among various forces" to ensure a smooth yatra. He also "urged on gathering intelligence on the ground so as to ensure an incident-free yatra."
Earlier, Vohra chaired a security review meeting with police officials, army and central intelligence agencies at the Raj Bhavan. He stressed the need for "cohesive action being taken to enforce constant vigil on the International Border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC), effectively maintaining internal security and ensuring the safety of protected persons, sensitive establishments and installations."
He also directed the officials who were present in the meeting to "identify all existing gaps and ensure coordinated action on the ground for providing prompt and strong counter-militancy responses on all fronts and ensuring fool-proof security arrangements for the yatra."
The governor held the discussion about the yatra arrangements with security and civil administration top brass, including Northern Army Commander lieutenant-general Ranbir Singh, Chief Secretary BB Vyas and Vaid.
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Updated Date: Jun 22, 2018 16:20 PM