More Troops Arriving To Protect Biggest Ever Hindu Yatra in Kashmir

Srinagar- As Jammu and Kashmir continues to witness a spurt in militant attacks, the government of India is pushing thousands of more paramilitary personnel into the Kashmir Valley to ensure smooth and peaceful conduct of the annual Hindu pilgrimage being held after three years.

According to officials, thousands of additional reinforcements of paramilitaries Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Border Security Force (BSF) are being rushed to the Kashmir Valley as part of the government’s security arrangements to ensure incident-free pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir.

PRO CRPF Kashmir, Junaid Khan told Kashmir Observer that akin to routine years, this year too, there will be no change in the arrangements made for peaceful conduct of Yatra.

“The foolproof security that had been arranged in the past several years including ROP’s for safe passage of convoys won’t change this year. In fact, the camps that are put intact on the trekking route from Chandanwari & Baltal [to the holy cave] will also remain the same,” Khan said.

However, the CRPF spokesperson said that this year the number of arriving pilgrims has doubled and it subsequently poses a challenge but that won’t hamper the security arrangements.

He said that the only change the forces may have to do will be to increase the size of camps for pilgrims besides that no other changes in the arrangements are required.

“As of now, we don’t have an exact figure of armed deployment for Yatra as the forces are still being inducted. But as per MHA, we’re supposed to arrange 40,000 joint security personnel from CRPF, ITBP, BSF and SSB. Some of these battalions are already conducting their routine activities in the valley and some are still in the process of deployment from other parts,” Khan said.

Besides, he said, there will be some additional deployment in the Pahalgam axis and an additional deployment in the Baltal-Srinagar axis depending on the requisition sent by the local police to MHA on the number of personnel required for Yatra related deployment.

“The process of inducting extra battalions from other parts is currently going on. The additional deployment has been called in as many axis require an increased manpower. The Khanbal-Chandanwari axis require an additional deployment for road protection and camp establishment. Similarly, the Srinagar-Ganderbal-Baltal axis also needs extra manpower,” the CRPF spokesperson said.

According to officials, six to eight lakh pilgrims are expected to attend the annual pilgrimage being held after three years in wake of Article-370 abrogation and the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic.

The pilgrimage was cancelled midway in 2019, ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution in August that year.

This year, the Yatra is expected scheduled to start from for June 30 and around six to eight lakh pilgrims are expected to cover the pilgrimage, Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Apurva Chandra told reporters here on Monday.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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