Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Thursday said there was no increased threat perception to this year's Amarnath yatra compared to previous years and fears of attack as reported in the media were "gross exaggeration".
"While we will take all the regular precautions with a multi-layer security grid, 'yatra attack feared' headlines are a gross exaggeration," Omar wrote on the microblogging site Twitter.
The CM’s remark comes in the wake of several high-ranking officials, including Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde issuing statements about the Amarnath yatra being on militant radar this year. Referring to the Unified headquarters meeting in Srinagar chaired by him on Wednesday, Omar said that the security officials told him that the threat perception to the annual pilgrimage has not increased this year.
"In fact, I asked a pointed question about whether the threats this year were higher than the previous years and the answer was a categorical no," the chief minister said.
With less than 10 days left for the start of annual Amarnath Yatra, the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government said there is a terror threat to the nearly two-month-long pilgrimage and that additional security forces are being deployed to provide safety. "There is terror threat to Amarnath yatra," Shinde said.
Shinde said the government was taking precautions and sending additional forces to ensure safety and security of all pilgrims visiting the 13,500 feet high Himalayan cave shrine in south Kashmir.
Shinde's assessment came even as the Jammu and Kashmir government declared the entire pilgrimage route in the state as "highly prone" to terrorist attacks and directed security forces to augment their vigil.
The army on Monday said it has received inputs that terrorists might try to disrupt the yatra. The security arrangements for the yatra also came up for a detailed review at the Unified Headquarters meeting chaired by Omar in Srinagar.
Last year, an estimated 6.2 lakh pilgrims had a glimpse of the ice stalagmite structure inside the cave which devotees believe symbolises the mythological powers of Lord Shiva. "Considering the security scenario, topography of the yatra area, high potential of terrorist attacks on the yatris to create law and order situation throughout the state, sensitive nature of the yatra, and the high publicity the yatra generates, the entire yatra area is highly prone to terrorist attacks," the Jammu and Kashmir home department said in a circular issued to all agencies concerned.