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Amarnath Yatra begins, here’s what it takes to protect yatris

Besides Jammu and Kashmir Police, 30,000 paramilitary personnel deployed along both yatra routes this year. The army has also deployed five battalions in the Valley for the yatra.

india Updated: Jun 28, 2017 14:56 IST
Navneet Dubey
Devotees chant religious slogans as the first batch of pilgrims leave for Amarnath Yatra, an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine, from Jammu on Wednesday.
Devotees chant religious slogans as the first batch of pilgrims leave for Amarnath Yatra, an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine, from Jammu on Wednesday.(Nitin Kanotra / HT Photo)

The annual Amarnath Yatra that began on Wednesday morning is a logistical challenge for the Jammu and Kashmir government and central security forces in the wake of a spike in militancy in the Valley. Besides high-altitude hazards and sub-zero temperatures, the yatris face a looming threat from militants out to disrupt the pilgrimage that passes through the volatile Anantnag district in south Kashmir. Here’s a ground check as the first batch left Jammu for the cave shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.

PILGRIMS PROGRESS: First batch of 2,280 devotees from Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu leaves for cave shrine, situated at 3,888m (12,756 ft). Till date, more than two lakh pilgrims from the country have registered for the yatra. The first batch comprised 1,811 men, 422 women and 74 sadhus. They left by 72 vehicles, escorted by security personnel. The pilgrims will perform darshan (prayers) on June 29.

Advance registration for yatra is on since March 1 through 437 bank branches of the Punjab National Bank, J&K Bank and Yes Bank in 32 states and UTs. This year, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) opened a registration outlet at Leh to enable tourists in Ladakh.

SECURITY BANDOBAST: Besides Jammu and Kashmir Police, 30,000 paramilitary personnel deployed along both yatra routes this year. The army has also deployed five battalions in the Valley for the yatra. The paramilitary forces include the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF) and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB).

Watch video | Amarnath Yatra 2017: Security forces go tech-savvy to ensure safety

DURATION: The 40-day yatra will culminate on August 7 on Raksha Bandhan. There are two routes: the traditional Pahalgam route in Anantnag district is 28.2 km long, while the Baltal track in Ganderbal district is a 9.5 km-stretch.

MEDICAL SUPPORT: 253 health professionals, including 107 doctors and 146 paramedics, deployed on yatra routes. 66 medical camps have been set up by state health department, army, central paramilitary forces, J&K Police and NGOs; 30-bed base hospital at Chandanwari.

WEATHER WISE: The temperature at the cave shrine is between 1 degree and 14 degrees Celsius. Rain forecast for next two days on yatra route.

HELPLINE: 0194-2313146 or e-mail sasbjk2001@gmail.com.

CAMPS: 18 to be managed by 24 camp directors/ additional camp directors and deputy camp directors.

SUPPORT SYSTEM: 24 rescue teams drawn from J&K Armed Police, state and national disaster response forces equipped with equipment, including oxygen cylinders. Four search and rescue teams of NDRF at Pahalgam, Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Baltal.

8 mountain rescue teams from J&K Armed Police to help women and sick yatris in negotiating difficult stretches on yatra routes.

12 avalanche rescue teams on both routes. Of these, seven are along Pahalgam route at Chandanwari, Pissu Top, Zojibal Nagakoti, Sheshnag, MG Top, Panjtarni, and the holy cave and five teams along the Baltal route at Baltal, Domel, Railpatri, Brarimarg and Sangam Top.

35 dog squads of army, J&K Police, BSF and CRPF deployed along Pahalgam and Baltal routes, of which 27 on the Pahalgam axis and eight on Baltal stretch.

700 toilets and 100 washrooms set up at base camps at Panjtarni, Pahalgam, and Baltal, Sonamarg.