Modi 2.0 faces its first big challenge in Kashmir with threat from Pakistan based terror groups looming large over the 40 day long Yatra which commences on July 1.
When a top officer from Jammu and Kashmir’s security grid sought blessing of the new Home Minister during the recent security review meet, Amit Shah retorted, “I am not a baba, whose blessing you need. It is the work on the ground by security forces and their preparedness which will provide foolproof security.”
With directions flowing from the top, this year the security forces are relying heavily on state of the art technology like barcoding, RFID, satellite monitoring, live CCTV of national highway, real time footage and use of drones besides getting additional boots on ground for securing yatris.
On the review of security arrangements at the Baltal Axis, Dilbagh Singh, DGP JK Police told India Today, “We have made adequate security arrangements. Whatever has to be done for the security of the yatris will be done whether they are in the camps or moving in the convoys. We are using technology to best effect.”
Though he elaborated there is no “specific threat” to the Amarnath Yatra, but security preparations are in full swing in Kashmir valley where once again terror threat from Pak based terror organisation JEM and LET loom large over the yatra.
Barcode-enabled slips will be used to track the actual number of people travelling to and from Amarnath shrine transport. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags will be used for the pilgrims.
marnath Yatra will begin on July 1 and will conclude on August 15.
Over 2.5 lakh yatris are expected to visit the holy cave. Drones and satellites, live monitoring of the CCTVs are being used by the security agencies to monitor the 40 day long yatra.
Apart from this Automatic Number Plate Reading Camera (ANPR) at Jawahar tunnel, whose feed is also available in the control room which will automatically take pictures of number plate of all vehicles, has also been installed. The cameras are capable to rotate 360 degree. Amit Kumar, a young officer second in command in CRPF headquarter is said to be the brain behind some of the key innovations.
Amit says, “While Barcoding and RFID were pilot projects during last yatra, this year it has been fully implemented. Each yatri and each vehicle is accounted for.
Special Quick Action Teams of the army and the CRPF will guard the highway. The three tier security of JK Police, CAPF and the army will secure the holy cave. Closed circuit cameras are installed along the highway and at sensitive locations on the yatra route.
There is enthusiasm in the air.
Shikha Aggarwal, a pilgrim from Delhi makes it to yatra every year. When asked whether she is wary of the terror threat and what pulls her family to the darshan every year, she quipped ,” Whether it is terror threat or Pakistan, baba has called us for darshan and so nothing will stop the pilgrims.” Speaking further she said, “We are not scared of anything. It is a call from Baba Barfani to complete the yatra and we go without any fear.”
Baldev Sharma a bhandarewala from Rajasthan is also a regular traveller.
He says, “We make it to the yatra every year. We have slight fear but nothing stops us. We come to serve the pilgrims. If we stop coming because of terror, what will happen? Besides visit to the holy cave, we owe it to our nationalism also. “
Junaid Mattoo, the Srinagar Mayor echoes thoughts of the locals, who welcome yatri with open arms and heart.
“The yatra has been a symbol of peaceful co-existence between the Hindus and Muslims. Kashmiris have always opened their hearts to the yatris. This year also we are prepared to serve best and wish that the yatra is peaceful. Like every year, Kashmiris put their best hostability on exhibition.”
Mattoo told India Today,” Security forces apparatus and police grid are taking all precautions. They are on their toes. As far as the city isconcerned we are reviewing all hotels, public facility and conveniences to ensure that yatris are comfortable. Temples and dharamshalas are being taken care of in the city as several visitors visit them during yatra.”