With the state reeling under increased terrorist incidents and attacks on security forces in the Kashmir Valley, posing a huge challenge to the security apparatus in ensuring a peaceful and incident—free Amarnath yatra. Eight CRPF personnel were killed and at least 21 others injured when two militants attacked its CRPF convoy at Pampore in Pulwama district on June 25.
As many as 12,500 central paramilitary personnel and 8,000 state policemen will be deployed along the two routes in South Kashmir’s Pahalgam and Northeast Sonamarg.
Meanwhile , over 9,000 pilgrims have set off from base camps in Ganderbal and Anantnag districts of Jammu and Kashmir to begin this year’s Amarnath Yatra. “Out of 7500 pilgrims gathered at the Baltal base camp (Ganderbal), 4000 had crossed the Dumail gate to start the 14-kilometre long trek to the Cave Shrine early today,” said a senior police officer . “By 10 a.m. the remaining 3500 pilgrims will also cross the gate towards the Cave Shrine,” he said.
From Nunwan base camp (in Pahalgam in Anantnag), 1600 yatris had crossed Chandanwari towards the Cave Shrine in the morning, the police officer said.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh are also visiting the Amarnath Cave Shrine on Saturday to participate in the special puja that heralds the beginning of the annual yatra.
Vohra and Rajnath Singh will have ‘Darshan’ of the ice stalagmite inside the cave which is revered as a ‘Shiva Linga’ by the devotees. It is believed that the Shiva Linga grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival.
This years’s 48-day long yatra will end on August 17 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.