Amarnath Yatra: Review Meet To Be Held In J&K Today

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New Delhi/Srinagar-  A high-level meeting of top administration and security officers of Jammu and Kashmir is expected to be held in the Union Territory on Friday to review the arrangements for the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra, according to officials.

This will be the first security review meet for the annual pilgrimage that is scheduled to start on June 30 after the coronavirus pandemic enforced a two-year break.

A total of 110 companies or about 10,000 Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) personnel are expected to be deployed for the yatra to the shrine located at a height of 3,880 metres in the south Kashmir Himalayas.

The meeting will be held on April 15 and is expected to be chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, officials said.

Officers from the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), intelligence, the Union Territory administration, police and commanders of CAPFs like the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF) will attend the meeting.

The journey of the pilgrims will begin from the twin routes -- the traditional 48-km route from Nunwan in Pahalgam in south Kashmir's Anantnag and the 14-km shorter but steep Baltal route in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir.

The pilgrimage was cancelled midway in 2019, ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August that year, while only a symbolic yatra was observed for the last two years due to COVID-19.

During this year's yatra, the SASB has decided to put in place a daily route-wise ceiling of pilgrims at 10,000, excluding those travelling by helicopters.

Union Home Secy, IB Director Arrive In Srinagar

Meanwhile Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Intelligence Bureau Director Arvind Kumar arrived in Srinagar on Thursday to review the preparations for Amarnath Yatra.

According to government sources, Bhalla will hold a meeting with Jammu and Kashmir DGP Dilbag Singh and other officials of the J&K administration to see that all necessary arrangements are in place before its commencement on June 30.

Sources also said that the Home Secretary will hold a meeting of the chiefs of the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security force, Army officials, J&K Police chief and other high officials of the Union Territory and his Ministry to discuss the security and other important aspects related to the Amarnath Yatra.

The DGP will make a presentation on the security aspect during the meeting whereas the IB chief is likely to discuss the intelligence inputs gathered so far, the sources further said.

In his two days visit to J&K, Bhalla will also discuss the security aspect with the senior Army officials.

Providing adequate security seems to be major concerns for the Central government as the Yatra is commencing after two years because of the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, officials said.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration and police have been asked to make preparations for around eight lakh pilgrims for the pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine which will be concluded on August 11.

The CRPF deploys a maximum number of the security forces during the Yatra and its DG Kuldiep Singh, along with senior officials, have already held a preliminary round of meetings last week with Dilbag Singh and senior officials of the UT government.

Officials also said that after the successful completion of this pilgrimage will be an advantage for the Centre as that will endorse its claims that the security scenario has improved in the Union Territory.

The entire preparation for the pilgrimage will also be reviewed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah before it begins on June 30.

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