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Rediff News  All News  » News » PIX: Amarnath Yatra begins; security tight, weather grim

PIX: Amarnath Yatra begins; security tight, weather grim

Last updated on: June 24, 2012 19:07 IST

Image: The Amarnath route map
Mukhtar Ahmad

The annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath took off on Sunday as the first batch of pilgrims set off from winter capital Jammu in the morning.

The first batch of the 2,098 yatris left Jammu in a heavily-escorted convoy, which arrived at the base camps -- north Kashmir Baltel and south Kashmir Pahalgam -- in the evening. From here they will proceed towards the cave shrine situated at a height of 3,888 meters above sea level in the Himalayas on Monday.

Official sources said that over 10,000 pilgrims have already reached the Baltel camp from various states and the Sri Amarnath Shrine Board has already made it clear that no unregistered pilgrim will be allowed to join the yatra.

Each yatri has to carry a medical fitness certificate this year after scores of pilgrims died during last year's yatra owing to various health-related problems, especially cardiac problems.


Amarnath Yatra begins; security tight, weather grim

Image: Labourers clearing the path
Photographs: Umar Ganie/

The board had to face the vagaries of weather and heavy snow along the routes and it took them days to clear them even though several areas along the route from Pahalgam are still covered with snow.

The weather may still play a spoil sport as it has been raining intermittently along both Pahalgam and Baltal routes since Saturday.

Yatra control rooms have been established in Nunwan and Baltal base camp and the pilgrims will only be allowed to proceed towards the cave shrine after obtaining the latest weather update from the meteorological stations set up at the base camps.


Amarnath Yatra begins; security tight, weather grim

Image: The base camp at Baltal
Photographs: Umar Ganie/

Langars (community kitchens) have been set up at both Baltal and Nunwan base camps and at all halting stations.

Stringent security arrangements have been made to ensure that the yatra is peaceful. New security measures have been introduced this year which includes installation of CCTV cameras and X-ray machines for checking the baggage of pilgrims and tourists visiting this south Kashmir resort.

The security set-up of CRPF for the yatra has been activated, including deployment at Bagwati Nagar base-camp in Jammu and other camps en route to Kashmir valley. Also an escort team is being provided to the Yatra convoy from Jammu to Baltal and Pahalgam base-camps in Kashmir valley apart from Highway security.


Amarnath Yatra begins; security tight, weather grim

Image: Paramilitary personnel on guard at the Baltal base camp
Photographs: Umar Ganie/

Few companies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Border Security Force (BSF) have also been deployed in South Kashmir Himalayas -- the abode of the cave shrine.

Arrangements with regard to security and deployment of manpower for smooth conduct of the yatra were finalised at a high-level meeting yesterday under the chairmanship of Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar.

The DGP sought reports from officers representing various agencies in the meeting and was briefed about the arrangements put in place for safety and security of the pilgrims.

Intelligence gathering and information sharing would help in foiling any ill design of the miscreants, for which frequent meetings should be convened at different levels, the DGP said.

Joint control rooms established at different destinations on the twin routes would also help maintain coordination among the security agencies besides helping them in assessment of the situation on a daily basis, he said.

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