New Delhi, June 15 (IANS) The Centre has ordered security agencies to follow “zero error” policy and step up security for the ensuing annual Amarnath Yatra in which over three lakh pilgrims are expected to take part amid fears of possible terror attacks.
On Union Home Ministry’s direction, at least 238 companies — nearly 24,000 personnel — of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been deputed on the Amarnath Yatra route, an increase of around 17 per cent from last year, for the two-month event.
The CRPF will be assisted by over 25,000 personnel of Army, Border Security Force (BSF) and Jammu and Kashmir Police, which have already been stationed at specific locations falling on the yatra route for the Hindu shrine that will start on June 28 and continue till August 26.
Informed sources said the security forces were undergoing training in Srinagar to ensure that the upcoming Amarnath Yatra was conducted in a smooth manner.
Senior Superintendent of Police and Superintendent of Police rank officials will supervise different companies of each force, an official in the Home Ministry said.
This year, the Ministry has also decided to install radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in vehicles used by pilgrims for better coordination and use drones for the surveillance of suspicious activities.
The RFID device uses radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag attached to an object, the official said, adding it will be installed onto the vehicles when an individual or tour operators register to travel to Kashmir for Amarnath Yatra.
The forces, deployed in the Jammu and Kashmir by June 10, have been assigned with specific objectives and maximum number of security is scheduled to be deployed at the base camp for the pilgrims, said the official.
A 24X7 helpline number 1364 will start two days before the yatra.
The Ministry will use CCTV cameras, bullet proof bunkers, dog squads and quick reaction teams on the yatra route. Satellites are likely to track the movement of pilgrims.
Other facilities like drinking water, toilets, clean halls for stay, inquiry counters, transport, communication and banking facilities have been set up at the Yatri Niwas in Jammu. Nearly 70 medical camps will be set up on the route.
Taking note of last year’s attack on Amarnath pilgrims and increased militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh decided to improve security for the pilgrimage during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on June 7-8.
On July 10 last year, at least nine Amarnath pilgrims were killed and 19 others injured in an attack on a bus in Anantnag district. Keeping that in mind, multi-tier security arrangements have been made this year, the official said.
The Home Ministry on Thursday reviewed security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Army chief General Bipin Rawat, Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police S.P. Vaid, Director General of BSF K.K. Sharma and CRPF chief R.R. Bhatnagar were present in the meetings.
The sources said the two meetings discussed the loopholes last year and the measures to be taken this year keeping in mind the potential threats, including fidayeen attacks.
Data available with the state administration shows that between January and May this year, as many as 68 terrorists were killed by the forces despite 30 days ceasefire against militants in Jammu and Kashmir during Ramadan declared on May 16.
Of the 68, south Kashmir accounted for 53 deaths. During Ramadan, more than 10 were killed on the Line of Control. Last year’s figure stood at 52 for the same time period.
As far as terror-related incidents are concerned, during the last 30 days of Ramdan, over 30 terrorist incidents have been reported.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])