The annual pilgrimage to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is beginning from today (1 July) amid tight security in view of the threat to the yatra from terrorists, reports Hindustan Times.
According to the report, the first batch of 2,234 pilgrims arrived in Baltal and Pahalgam on Sunday (30 June), said the officials. These pilgrims would begin a trek to the shrine located 3,888 m above sea level from Monday (1 July) .
“The yatris [pilgrims] have started arriving at the base camps. We have every facility in place for them,” Ganderbal’s additional district development commissioner, Shafaqat Iqbal was quoted as saying.
“The food and accommodation at the base camps are provided for free. We have also kept provisions of free rice, flour, sugar, and gas in case someone wants to prepare food on his own,” he said.
More than 1.5 lakh pilgrims from across the country have registered for the 46-day long pilgrimage, said the officials.
As per the report, the yatra is done via two routes - one from Pahalgam and other from Baltal. While the pilgrims trek for 32 km to the reach the holy Amarnath cave from Pahalgam, the route to the shrine from Baltal is just 14 km long.
In view of the threat to the Yatra from the Pakistan-based and local terrorist outfits, as many as 40,000 personnel have been deployed to provide multi-layered security. The vehicles of the pilgrims have been fitted with radio-frequency identification chips to track their movement. The convoys are being escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
The pilgrims have been provided with bar-coded identity cards. The security forces have also installed closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at vulnerable points.
“All the security agencies have coordinated to draw out a security plan...We have made a comprehensive plan based on our experience,” said CRPF inspector general Ravideep Singh Sahi.
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