On a day security forces engaged terrorists in gunfights across Jammu and Kashmir, an incident-free Amarnath Yatra that saw nearly four lakh pilgrims going to the Holy Cave came to an end on Wednesday.
This year’s yatra (piligrimiage) came in the backdrop of the two-month long agitation in the state over the transfer of a small piece of government land to the Amarnath Shrine Board last year.
The controversy polarised people that the Home Ministry acknowledges has scarred people in the region.
Police officers were worried that an attack on the shrine that houses the naturally-formed ice Shivlingam or the devout could have an immediate reaction in the Jammu region, and could end up deepening the divide.
“There have been threats from militants including Lashkar-e-Tayyeba ...But we successfully foiled all attempts ...to target the pilgrims,” Nalin Prabhat, CRPF Deputy Inspector General (Operations), South Kashmir, said.
Intelligence officers who had spent long days working on communications links in the weeks ahead of the yatra said the threats were real, and scary.
“The Lashkar was the primary source of threat,” said a CRPF officer.
A multi-cordon security blanket is thrown along the route.
While the Indian Army is expected to man the heights to prevent any infiltration from the mountains, Border Security Force personnel dot the trekking route and the CRPF jawans ensure safety at camps.
“The idea is that even if terrorist breach one cordon, they will be checked by one of the remaining two,” BSF DIG Rakesh Sharma said.
Thousands of security personnel spend nearly three months – they have to set up base ahead of the yatra in mid-June —around the icy route.