Srigar, June 30: Given the alacrity with which militants have carried out attacks against the security forces this year, the annual Amarth Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine beginning July 2 is going to be the biggest security challenge faced by the Jammu and Kashmir government headed by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. After the guerrillas killed three Border Security Force (BSF) troopers and injured 11 at Bijbehara town on the Jammu-Srigar tiol highway on June 3, they struck again on the same highway near Pampore town on June 25, the bloodbath claiming the lives of eight Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) members and injuring 22. The two fidayeen (suicide) militants who carried out the Pampore attack were also killed in the ensuing gunfight.
Earlier on February 23, seven persons, including four security personnel and three militants, were killed in a 48-hour long gunfight at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) on the Jammu-Srigar highway near Pampore town. Union Home Minister Rajth Singh reviewed the security situation in Kashmir on Tuesday at a meeting in New Delhi that was attended, among others, by tiol Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Kumar Doyal. Media reports said the militants had carried out a recce of the route leading to the Amarth Yatra’s north Kashmir Baltal base camp. All the pilgrims who come to perform the Yatra use the Jammu-Srigar tiol highway except the few who come here by air. Such pilgrims also filly use the same highway, whether they perform the Yatra via the south Kashmir Pahalgam route or the north Kashmir Baltal route.
The poster boy of Kashmir militancy, Burhan Wani, has said in a recently released video on the social media that the militants will not harm the Amarth Yatra pilgrims as they are coming here for purely religious reasons. In the same video, Burhan “advised” the local policemen to remain confined to the police stations and not perform duties that involve them in anti-militancy operations. “The point is who can take Burhan’s word as authentic? We have had such assurances in the past and filly when attacks were carried out by militants they were conveniently blamed on Indian agents,” said a senior intelligence officer here who did not wish to be med. “Security is our concern and duty. Therefore, we cannot take any chances with it,” he added. The centre has decided to send more companies of the central armed police forces to ensure foolproof security for the Jammu-Srigar tiol highway in general and the Amarth Yatra in particular.
“More mobile bunkers, more quick response teams, more static guards and more road opening parties (ROPs) are being now deployed to ensure that terrorists are prevented from carrying out attacks like at Pampore”, said a senior paramilitary officer.
Senior CRPF officers who visited the Pampore attack site have said the standard operating procedure (SOP) was followed by the troops while dealing with the suicide attack. A high-level central team deputed by the Union Home Ministry is also here to prepare a report on the security situation in the aftermath of the Pampore attack and also suggest measures to ensure that such assaults are prevented in the future. (IANS)