With the annual Manimahesh pilgrimage in tribal Bharmour subdivision of Chamba district beginning on September 5, the Himachal Pradesh Police in collaboration with the Indian Army has launched a combing operation in the areas bordering Jammu and Kashmir.
The operation has been launched in the wake of spurt in terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir and the recent terror attack in Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district of Punjab.
The hill state shares a 214-km border with Doda, Kishtwar and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir and a vast area along the state border is dotted by dense forests.
Though the region is considered safe, threat perception always remains there, particularly in the area from where visitors from Bhaderwah enter Himachal Pradesh.
“We have launched a combing operation in the forests on the border with Jammu and Kashmir. It will continue till the annual Manimahesh yatra concludes on September 20,” said Sanjay Kumar, director general of police (DGP), Himachal Pradesh.
“We will not scale down the security given the spurt in militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir and the recent attack in Dinanagar,” he added.
Recently, the Himachal Pradesh Police, during an interstate police coordination meeting, had asked their counterparts in Jammu and Kashmir to tighten security in the areas bordering Chamba.
During the Manimahesh yatra, pilgrims from the neighbouring state cross through a 30-km uninhabited area and sensitive area of Padri Gulli and Khundi Mural in Kehar where the chances of a militant strike are more when they are deep inside Himachal territory.
The Chamba-J&K border remained tranquil till 1998 when militants massacred 35 labourers in two separate incidents in Satrundi and Kalaban in Chamba district, following which the Indo-Tibetan Boarder Police was deployed on a 64-km stretch of the border.
However, the central government pulled out the force in 2013 and all 24 posts on the border are now manned by the state police.
Every year an estimated half a million devotees undertake the arduous journey to take a dip in the oval shaped, glacial-fed Manimahesh lake, located at a height of 13,500 feet in the Bharmour valley. The pilgrimage begins on the eve of the Janmashtami festival.