Srinagar, June 30 (Calcutta Tube) With the Amarnath Yatra set to start Thursday amid turmoil in the Kashmir Valley, authorities say foolproof arrangements are in place to protect the tens of thousands of pilgrims.
‘A multi-layer security arrangement is in place to provide security to the pilgrims. The entire route from the Jawahar Tunnel to the base camps of Nunwan in the south and Baltal in the north has been sanitized and 24-hour vigil is being maintained,’ said a senior police officer here.
The Indian Army has been entrusted with security duties over the mountain tops.
The Border Security Force (BSF) will secure the two routes of the north and south Kashmir and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as well as the local police will guard the base and transit camps on the pilgrimage routes.
Nearly 3,000 BSF troopers have been airlifted to guard this year’s yatra.
While an indefinite curfew was imposed in the south Kashmir towns of Anantnag, Kulgam and Pulwama Wednesday morning following Wednesday’s violence, authorities have now also clamped curfew in the south Kashmir towns of Bijbehara and Pahalgam too.
Anantnag and Pahalgam towns fall on the Jammu-Pahalgam pilgrimage route while those taking the north Kashmir Baltal route to reach the cave shrine have to pass through Bijbehara, Awantipore and Pampore towns in the south.
Srinagar, Ganderbal and Kangan towns also fall on the route.
Free kitchens will supply food for the pilgrims at the Manigam transit camp in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and at the base camp in Baltal.
‘We have set up 14 medical camps along the north Kashmir route and 11 on the south Kashmir route.
‘Twenty-one ambulances have been kept available along the two routes,’ said Muhammad Amin, director of health services here.
Reports from the winter capital Jammu said the first batch of 1,300 yatris had left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley under tight security.
Situated 13,500 feet above sea level in the Kashmir Himalayas, the cave shrine houses an ice lingam or a stalagmite structure which devotees believe represents the mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
Although only 150,000 Hindus have so far registered themselves, the number of pilgrims is expected to cross half a million mark this year.