J&K governor NN Vohra orders anti-militancy operations to be ramped up during 60-day Amarnath Yatra

Governor of Jammu and Kashmir NN Vohra on Wednesday directed the top brass of security forces to ramp up anti-militancy operations in the state during the Amarnath Yatra, which will go on for 60 days starting 28 June. Convoys of pilgrims will pass through militancy hotbed south Kashmir, where the youth often take to the streets in large numbers to foil anti-militancy operations.

Vohra gave the order at the review meeting he held with the top brass of security forces. Senior officials from the civic administration also attended the meeting at Raj Bhawan on Wednesday afternoon. The governor convened the review meeting immediately after discussing the overall security situation in the Valley with state chief secretary BB Vyas, officials said.

 J&K governor NN Vohra orders anti-militancy operations to be ramped up during 60-day Amarnath Yatra

File image of Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra. PTI.

Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police SP Vaid said anti-militancy operations will be "carried out based on intelligence inputs", and that they will go on even during the Amarnath Yatra.

A top government official said that Vohra had earlier held a meeting with the administrative secretaries of various departments at the Secretariat and asked them to improve their functioning. Officials said that during the review meeting, they had also discussed the role various departments could play to ensure that the Amarnath Yatra progresses smoothly.

The meetings were held hours after Vohra issued the proclamation to impose Governor's Rule in Jammu and Kashmir after President of India Ram Nath Kovind approved it.

On Tuesday evening, the Jammu and Kashmir governor received a letter from Bharatiya Janata Party state president, Ravinder Raina, and former deputy chief minister Kavinder Gupta on the BJP withdrawing from the coalition government and ending its alliance with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which subsequently led Mehbooba Mufti to resign as chief minister. After these developments, he submitted a report to the president, seeking to impose Governor's Rule in the state under Section 92 of the Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir.

At a meeting on 23 May, Vohra, as chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, had directed authorities to ensure that adequate security arrangements are put in place for the Hindu pilgrimage, as the pilgrims pass through the highly volatile Anantnag and Pulwama regions in south Kashmir.

At the meeting on Wednesday, they made note of the rise in militancy in the state, officials said. On Tuesday, the BJP had accused Mehbooba of being unable to handle the security situation in the state and being soft on stone-pelters. It cited this as one of its reasons to break its alliance with the PDP and seeking Governor's Rule.

According to data from the Ministry of Home Affairs, militant attacks rose manyfold after the PDP-BJP coalition came to power in March 2015. The figures show that 208 militant attacks were reported in 2015, 322 in 2016 and 342 in 2017. The figure stood at 64 till March end this year. The data shows that 108 militants were killed in 2015, 150 in 2016 and 213 in 2017, while the casualties on the side of Indian security forces stood at 39, 82 and 80 the same years. Till 15 March this year, 20 militants were killed and 15 troops were killed.

Militants had rejected the government's offer of "non-initiation of combat operations" in Jammu and Kashmir, which home minister Rajnath Singh had announced it at the onset of Ramzan, and continued targetting security forces and various locations in the state during the holy month.

Officials said the yatra will proceed from Jammu to Srinagar amid tight security, and authorities will deploy adequate forces along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway as well as at the Baltal base camp in Sonmarg and Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam. Metal detectors will also be installed, and the routes pilgrims will follow will be monitored by closed-circuit television cameras, sources said. Access control gates will be installed at various places, officials added, and the route of the Yatra will be patrolled by the police and troops of the Central Reserve Police Force.

Besides the rise in militancy in the Valley, security is being heightened for the Amarnath Yatra also keeping in mind the July 2017 attack on the pilgrims.

Updated Date: Jun 20, 2018 22:11:56 IST