June 9, 2022 11:15 pm

Amarnath Yatra: Sticky Bombs Worry Security Agencies

Representational Photo

Srinagar- After a spate of killings of government employees and migrant workers at the hands of militants in the Valley, the government forces are bracing up to face the challenge of sticky bombs and drones ahead of the annual Amarnath yatra scheduled to begin from June 30.

An official from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) told Kashmir Observer that the security forces are reworking their standard operating procedures (SOPs) ahead of the pilgrimage being held after a gap of over two years.

“Several meetings were called in the last few months to mitigate the challenges,” the official said.

He said apart from targeted killing, presence of pistols, the use of sticky bombs is one of the major challenges that they are facing.

“We won’t allow any standby vehicles on the highways. We have apprehensions that the militants might use standby vehicles like trucks etc for detonating sticky bombs,” the official said.

He said the sticky bombs are akin to Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and for that the ROP’s (Road Opening Party) have been briefed.

Sticky bombs are explosives that can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely. Sticky bombs first emerged in Kashmir in February 2021 when these were recovered from Samba in Jammu.

“These bombs are difficult to trace because they are very small in size and usually magnetic in nature. These bombs can be attached on vehicles and detonated using a timer and a remotely-held device,” the CRPF official said.

The official, however, said that the security agency can’t ignore other areas and focus on sticky bombs only.

“We witnessed few encounters on Amarnath yatra route this year—means the militants are in this area as well,” the official said.

The official acknowledged that the recent targeted killings have created a sense of fear among the yatris “but we are also prepared,” he added.

The official said the Yatra will have a five-layer security system with drones, radio frequency identification (RFID), and hundreds of CCTVs to secure the Amarnath yatra vehicles.

The government has decided to provide multi-tier security cover by getting 300 additional companies of paramilitary forces to Kashmir.

“Apart from JKP, CRPF and Border Security Force (BSF), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) will also be deployed to neutralize any threat,” he added.

The 43-day-long annual Amarnath yatra is scheduled to start on June 30 from the twin routes — traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal — after a hiatus of two years owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It may be noted, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh visited base camps at Baltal and Domail where he reviewed the security arrangements put in place at these important points and en route for Amarnath Yatra.

Accompanied by Special DG, CID, R.R Swain, he interacted with personnel of the police and the CRPF at Baltal, and emphasised creating conducive environment to conduct the Amarnath Yatra smoothly

He said that strict adherence to security protocols be ensured for regulating the yatra in a desired manner, and directed that all possible assistance should be provided to the yatris.

“During the visit, the DGP reviewed security and logistic arrangements at Baltal, Domail and enroute and also inspected parking facilities for yatri vehicles. He gave directions for making adequate parking arrangements for the yatra, for better management of traffic and security. He directed for increasing the space for parking by levelling the ground at important locations to avoid inconvenience to the pilgrims,” a police official said.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed