Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla reviewed the security preparedness of Amarnath Yatra during his day-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday as the annual pilgrimage is all set to start on June 30 after a gap of two years.
Sources in the government said that Union Home Minister is also expected to hold a security review meeting very soon regarding the pilgrimage after the first round of review meetings by Bhalla. Bhalla, accompanied by Director Intelligence Bureau Arvind Kumar, who was on a two-day visit to the Union Territory, returned to Delhi by late Thursday.
Bhalla and Kumar, accompanied by a few senior Home Ministry officers, held meetings with Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh, senior officers of Jammu and Kashmir administration, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General Kuldiep Singh, Border Security Force (BSF) chief Pankaj Singh, and Amarnathji Shrine Board members on Thursday evening in Srinagar.
Bhalla, sources said, was apprised of security updates and department of Central Armed Police Forces on specific locations during the pilgrimage as well as the situation in the region.
Resuming the Amarnath pilgrimage is a challenging task as the UT has witnessed several incidences of targeted killings in the last few months by terrorists following which the Ministry of Home Affairs asked security agencies operating in Jammu and Kashmir to enhance counter-terror operations.
However, online registration for Amarnath Yatra 2022 started on April 11 and the Home Ministry has already sanctioned nearly 50 companies of CAPF for the purpose to provide security during the pilgrimage as J-K is expecting nearly three lakh pilgrims to visit the cave shrine this year.
While online registration has already begun, the pilgrimage is scheduled to be held for 43 days between June 30 and August 11.
The Amarnath shrine pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Lord Shiva, located in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, is held from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had cancelled the annual Amarnath pilgrimage due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in 2020 and 2021 after a discussion with Amarnathji Shrine Board members.
For the first time, the Amarnath Yatra was cancelled in 2019 a few days ahead of Article 370 and 35A was withdrawn from J-K, and all travellers were asked to return as soon as possible.