CRPF personnel recovered an improvised explosive device (IED) an hour before the scheduled visit of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil to Bhaderwah town of Doda district on Friday, officials said.
During the sanitisation operation for the visit, CRPF troops recovered an IED at Daligarh, three kms from Bhaderwah town, an hour before arrival of Gandhi and Patil there to assess the ground situation following heavy snowfall and avalanches in the beginning of this month, they said.
The IED was later defused, officials said noting that top authorities visited the spot and gave instructions to further tighten vigilance in the area.
Meanwhile, the UPA chairperson and the Union Home Minister began their day-long visit to the snow-hit areas of Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam and Srinagar districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Gandhi and Patil along with a high-level delegation from the Home ministry arrived at the Udhampur air force station.
She was received by Union Minister for Water Resources and JKPCC chief Saifuddin Soz, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and Peoples Democratic President (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti.
Gandhi later arrived in Bhaderwah, the home town and assembly constituency of Azad, which had recorded heaviest snowfall of seven feet in the town and 14-15 feet in the upper reaches.
Officials said Gandhi interacted with the people in the town who had apprised her about the difficulties they had faced due to snowfall.
As per her schedule, Gandhi would also visit Nawapachi area of Kishtwar district -- the worst-hit by the snowfall. The area had recorded over 16 feet of snow.
She is also scheduled to undertake an aerial survey of snow-hit regions of Anantnag district in south Kashmir, where over 12 people had died.
Kapran-Verinag-Waltango belt of Dooru assembly constituency was among the worst hit areas earlier this month. In 2005 April, the area was badly hit by snowfall, killing 290 people.
Sources said the UPA Chairperson is also expected to visit Srinagar before returning to Delhi.
The IED was hidden in the snow and fitted with a detonator to trigger the blast, they said, adding that a possible explosion would not have directly affected the VIPs but could have caused panic during the visit.