The Jammu and Kashmir government has asked the Amarnath Yatris to turn back amid possible security threats from Pakistan-backed terrorists.
Principal Secretary (Home) issued the security advisory on August 2, stating that the pilgrims and tourists in the region "may curtail their stay". The advisory also asked the tourists to "return as soon as possible".
The announcement came minutes after the top army and police officers held a press conference regarding intelligence inputs about a massive security threat in the valley targetting the Amarnath Yatris.
"Keeping in view the latest intelligence inputs of terror threats, with specific targeting of the Amarnath Yatra, and given the prevailing security situation in the Kashmir Valley, in the interest of the safety and security of the tourists and Amarnath Yatris, it is advised that they may curtail their stay in the Valley immediately and take necessary measures to return as soon as possible," the advisory issued by the Home department read.
"In the last three-four days, there were confirmed intelligence reports that terrorists backed by Pakistan and its army is trying to disrupt Amarnath Yatra and based on that a thorough search was conducted. We had major successes in these searches," Chinar Corps Commander Lt General KJS Dhillon had told the media.
Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took to Twitter to respond to the advisory. "Although this unprecedented order would seem to suggest a genuine fear of a massive terror strike directed at Amarnath ji yatris or/and tourists this will do nothing to dampen the sense of fear & foreboding that prevails in the valley at the moment," he wrote.
The security threat increased on Friday after security personnel recovered a military-grade sniper rifle along the route taken by the pilgrims. A Pakistan Ordinance factory anti-personnel mine was also discovered in the region, the Army was quoted as saying by The Economic Times.
"A hundred companies had been ordered for deployment about a week ago, which are in the process of reaching their destinations. This has apparently led to speculations of induction of additional forces," a Home Ministry official told Hindustan Times.