Security forces in the North Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have been put on high alert ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage. The alert comes after the intelligence agencies said that about 20 terrorists, mostly of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) outfit, have sneaked into the valley and plan to attack the pilgrims.
The Amarnath Yatra begins on June 28 and will go on for a period of 60 days.
Keeping in my mind this threat, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has reportedly formed a special motorcycle squad to monitor the activities during the pilgrimage and keep an eye on possible troublemakers.
"Keeping in view the convenience and security of pilgrims, the CRPF has prepared a special motorcycle squad, which on one hand, will ensure the security of pilgrims on the yatra route and on the other, will also be used as small ambulances for them," Zee News quoted a CRPF spokesperson as saying.
Apart from the CRPF preparations, the government has also said each vehicle carrying the Amarnath pilgrims would be monitored with the radio frequency tag. In addition, a joint control room will also be set up by the security forces and the state police for better monitoring, protection and quick action.
As Amarnath yatra is extremely popular with thousands of pilgrims visiting the shrine, the government has said that it would pull all stops to shield them from any untoward incidents. In tune, 22,500 paramilitary personnel will reportedly be deployed on the route and the J&K police will also put about 40,000 personnel on duty during the 60-day pilgrimage.
An official also revealed that several arrangements such as CCTV cameras, quick reaction teams, and dog squads will be pressed into service. The security officials will also take part in rigorous drills and tracking of vehicles will be a part of it.
The year 2018 is likely to see the highest number of pilgrims visiting the shrine and the advance registrations have reportedly crossed the 2 lakh mark. The reason behind this jump in numbers is said to be cheaper helicopter fares, the cost of a one-way ride being just Rs 1,600.
About 40,000 pilgrims have booked tickets on these choppers and the seats for the first three weeks have been sold out, according to the Economic Times.
The threat comes days after the LeT released the first issue of its online magazine in J&K, in which it said that the Indian Army would have a tough year ahead. In the first issue of its online magazine "Wyeth," the outfit has said that it intended to help the common man in the state.
The Kashmir-specific magazine also carried an interview of LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznawi and a detailed list of all the attacks the group carried out in the year 2017. The spokesperson also spoke about LeT not being a "proxy" of the Pakistan army and said: "LeT is the common man's struggle. It represents true aspirations of J&K people," reported Hindustan Times.