Pilgrims trickle into J-K as Amarnath Yatra begins on Thursday
Thousands of pilgrims from across the country started trickling-in at the two base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam on Wednesday to perform the Amarnath pilgrimage which will start from Thursday morning amid tight security.
Along with over 40,000 security personnel, hundreds of Kashmiris are toiling hard to ensure that arrangements are in place for the annual pilgrimage.
Eighteen-year-old Nisar Ahmad has been at the Baltal base camp for the past two weeks trekking the 14-km mountainous track daily on his horse along with rice, water, juices and others necessary items for the kitchens along the track. “I have come here two days before Eid along with my father and have been continuously working. I make one trip everyday to the cave. I get very tired but one has to fulfill his responsibility,” said Ahmad.
Some 2,995 pilgrims among the 211,000 who have registered for the yatra this year will be starting their trek on Thursday towards the cave shrine situated at 5,888 metres.
The government is for the first time using radio frequency (RF) tags to track Amarnath-bound vehicles, while the CRPF has introduced motorcycle squads with cameras and various life-saving equipment.
The two-month long pilgrimage this year comes amid governor’s rule in the state after the ruling coalition in the state fell apart on June 20. Heightened militant activity in the state before the commencement of the yatra had raised security concerns but a top Hizbul Mujahideen commander on Tuesday assured “pilgrims need not to worry”.
A coordinated security team of the police, CRPF and the Army has been put in place for the pilgrimage. While the CRPF will ensure sanitisation of routes, road opening parties will accompany the yatris from Jammu with the police. The Army will be incharge of corridor protection and securing higher reaches. Vehicles have been radio-tagged and CCTV cameras have been installed along the routes.