The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will be holding a high-level review of Shri Amarnath Ji yatra arrangements this week with the top brass of police and civil administration especially the additional deployment of paramilitary forces for the pilgrimage as a large number of troops are also engaged in Manipur.
Officials told a local newspaper that Jammu and Kashmir Police is set to project demand for additional 300 paramilitary companies for the annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji which will start on 1 July and last for 62 days till 31 August this year while 200 companies will be mobilized internally.
“Last year, the maximum number of 300 paramilitary companies were given to Jammu and Kashmir for the annual pilgrimage as the yatra was taking place for first time following abrogation of special status of erstwhile State and its bifurcation into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh. However, this time, a large number of paramilitary companies have been deployed in violence-hit Manipur and there seems no possibility that they will be withdrawn within next 15-20 days,” the officials said.
The pilgrimage this year is also going to last a little over two months.
Finally, as per the officials, Jammu and Kashmir may have to manage with 250 additional paramilitary companies but a final decision will be taken after talks between the Home Ministry and Jammu and Kashmir Police and civil administration this week.
Top police and civil officials from the Union Territory will attend the preliminary meeting to be called by the Union Home Ministry officials by this weekend. Union Home Minister Amit Shah will review the yatra arrangements after the middle of this month. Possibility of the Home Minister’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir later this month is also not ruled out.
Asserting that security situation is much better this year as compared to last year, the officials, however, said that arrangements will almost be similar to the last year as no chance can be taken with yatra security.
They added that Army will also play crucial role in yatra arrangements especially at the cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas and twin tracks, besides securing the National Highways of Jammu-Srinagar and Jammu-Pathankot.
Most of additional paramilitary companies comprise Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) while others belonged to Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) which is deployed on tracks and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
Jammu and Kashmir administration will manage deployment of nearly 200 companies of paramilitary forces from within the internal deployment which has been made for law and order and anti-militancy operations. Besides, Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) and JKAP will also be deployed for yatra duty.
Last year, the pilgrimage lasted 44 days and 3.65 lakh yatris from all over the country performed darshan of holy Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva at the cave shrine. This year, number of pilgrims is likely to go up.
In 2022, the pilgrimage was held after a gap of two years. It was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID pandemic and only ‘Chhari Mubarak’ (holy mace of Lord Shiva) was taken for darshan though all other rituals were performed. In 2019, the yatra was cut short by about a fortnight due to August 5 decisions of the Central Government.