Organising Peaceful Amarnath Yatra is a Big Challenge for J&K Govt

The centre has decided to send more companies of the central armed police forces to ensure foolproof security.

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PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti. (Photo: Reuters)

Given the alacrity with which militants have carried out attacks against the security forces this year, the annual Amarnath Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine beginning 2 July is going to be a big security challenge for the Mehbooba Mufti-headed Jammu and Kashmir government.

After guerrillas killed three Border Security Force (BSF) troopers and injured 11 at Bijbehara town on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway on 3 June, they struck again on the same highway near Pampore town on 25 June. The bloodbath claimed the lives of eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) members and injured 22.

The two fidayeen (suicide) militants who carried out the Pampore attack were also killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Earlier on 23 February, seven persons, including four security personnel and three militants, were killed in a 48-hour long gunfight at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Pampore town.

Security Situation Reviewed

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation in Kashmir on Tuesday at a meeting in New Delhi that was attended, among others, by National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Kumar Doyal. Media reports said the militants had carried out a recce of the route leading to the Amarnath Yatra’s north Kashmir Baltal base camp.

All the pilgrims who come to perform the Yatra use the Jammu-Srinagar national highway except the few who come here by air. Such pilgrims also finally use the same highway, whether they perform the Yatra via the south Kashmir Pahalgam route or the north Kashmir Baltal route.

The poster boy of Kashmir militancy, Burhan Wani, has said in a recently released video on social media that militants will not harm the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims as they are visiting for purely religious reasons.

In the same video, Burhan “advised” the local policemen to remain confined to the police stations and not perform duties that involve them in anti-militancy operations.

The point is who can take Burhan’s word as authentic? We have had such assurances in the past and finally when attacks were carried out by militants the were conveniently blamed on Indian agents. Security is our concern and duty. Therefore, we cannot take any chances with it
Senior Intelligence Officer
A waterfall in Kashmir. Image used for representation purpose. (Photo: ANI)
A waterfall in Kashmir. Image used for representation purpose. (Photo: ANI)

Gearing Up for The Yatra

The centre has decided to send more companies of the central armed police forces to ensure foolproof security for the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in general and the Amarnath Yatra in particular.

More mobile bunkers, more quick response teams, more static guards and more road opening parties (ROPs) are being now deployed to ensure that terrorists are prevented from carrying out attacks like at Pampore.
Senior Paramilitary Officer

Senior CRPF officers who visited the Pampore attack site said the standard operating procedure (SOP) was followed by the troops while dealing with the suicide attack.

Preparations being carried out to ensure a secure Yatra. (Photo: ANI)
Preparations being carried out to ensure a secure Yatra. (Photo: ANI)

A high-level central team deputed by the Union Home Ministry also prepared a report on the security situation in the aftermath of the Pampore attack and suggested measures to ensure that such assaults are prevented in the future. One encouraging development in the last 14 years has been that militants have avoided attacks on the Amarnath Yatra although there have been instances when vehicles carrying the pilgrims occasionally got caught incidents of stone pelting.

A Peaceful Amarnath Yatra Will Benifit Kashmir Tourism

The last attack by militants on the Amarnath Yatra took place on 6 August, 2002. A lone suicide militant entered the Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp in the wee hours of that morning and opened fire randomly, killing nine persons and injuring 27 others, including pilgrims and security personnel.

This year’s tourist inflow to the Valley has picked up appreciably after the unprecedented floods of September 2014.

A peaceful Amarnath Yatra could go a long way to reassure tourists and investors that Kashmir is fast returning to normal. This assurance will be reinforced only if the state and the central governments ensure that the militants are kept at bay and the annual pilgrimage takes place peacefully.

(Published in an arrangement with IANS)

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