After a gap of two years, the annual Hindu pilgrimage Amarnath Yatra is all set to start on June 30. The Union Home Secretary accompanied by the Director of the Intelligence Bureau will visit Srinagar on Thursday for a two-day visit to review all arrangements put in place.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and DIB Arvind Kumar are visiting Srinagar to review security arrangements ahead of the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine.
The visit gains significance as in the last month, many outsiders have been targeted by terrorists after which the Ministry of Home Affairs asked security agencies operating in J&K to enhance counter-terror operations.
Following this, nakkas (checkpoints) and search operations were stepped up, especially in South Kashmir. Continuous efforts are getting results as well, as per the Jammu and Kashmir police.
“We have managed to seize a huge cache of arms and ammunition in the last 48 hours. The neutralised terrorists were from JeM and have been identified as Jameel Pasha alias Usman Chachu, a Pakistani terrorist and Sameer Sofi, a resident of Amshipura, Shopian,” revealed an officer in charge of operations in the valley.
Meanwhile, online registration for Amarnath Yatra 2022 started on April 11. For the pilgrimage, the Home Ministry has already provided 40 companies of security forces for security-related purposes.
“Kashmir is likely to witness the highest footfall of pilgrims visiting the Amarnath cave shrine this year,” a senior-level functionary in the J&K administration disclosed.
According to him, the Union Home Minister himself would review the preparedness of security forces in the coming weeks.
As per estimates, about 3-6 lakh pilgrims are expected to arrive in J&K due to which preparations are going on at a massive scale.
“It will be twice the size than ever before. The arrangements will also be twice the size of previous years. Be it the drinking water, lodging, or sanitation, the whole administration is equipped to welcome a large number of pilgrims,” he said.
The yatra, which is held from the twin routes of Sonamarg and Pahalgam in the valley, is reopening for pilgrims after a gap of three years.
The pilgrimage was halted midway in 2019 following the Centre’s move to end J&K’s special constitutional position. Subsequently, the two waves of the Covid pandemic force the authorities to not resume the pilgrimage.
This year, the yatra would be for 43-days. It would start on June 30 with all Covid protocols in place and will culminate, as per the tradition, on the day of Raksha Bandhan – August 11.
The cave shrine is nestled at a height of 13,000 feet in the south Kashmir Himalayas and can be approached via Pahalgam and Baltal routes.