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Amarnath Yatra: With threat high, 28,000 security personnel to stand guard

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    The threat perception to the Amarnath Yatra is high and all possible security arrangements are in place. The Yatra which was attacked last year, begins today amidst tight security.

    Security personnel stand guard at Yatri Niwas base camp ahead of the annual Amarnath Yatra

    K Vijay Kumar, advisor to Jammu and Kashmir Governor, N N Vohra said that the security forces are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the Yatra passes off smoothly.

    As part of the security arrangements, no vehicles carrying the Yatris will be allowed to start from the base camps in Pahalgam and Baltal after 2 pm. This is being done to ensure that they reach the Jawahar tunnel, which connects Srinagar to Jammu by 7 pm.

    All vehicles would have RIFD tags to help the CRPF and J&K police personnel to track their movements. There would be at least 28,000 security personnel, mostly from the CRPF to guard the Yatra.

    Meanwhile, a new audio, purportedly released by Hizbul Mujahideen, has surfaced in Srinagar assuring Amarnath pilgrims they have nothing to fear as long as they visit Kashmir only to fulfill their religious duties.

    The voice is purportedly that of Riyaz Naikoo, the commander of the terror group. But the authenticity of the voice clip could not be confirmed.

    The 15-minute clip, which circulated on WhatsApp, carried Naikoo's picture.

    It welcomed Kashmiri Pandits back to their ancestral homes but warned against any plan to set up separate settlements for them in the Valley.

    "Our fight is only against India's occupation of Jammu and Kashmir. We have nothing against the people of India or Amarnath pilgrims who come here for religious reasons. However, they should not connect the pilgrimage to the political issue of Kashmir," Naikoo said.

    The Hizb commander said the pilgrims need not to worry about their safety and they can visit Kashmir without security.

    "We have hundreds of thousands of Biharis (non-locals) who come to Kashmir as labourers or beggars and are found in every nook and corner of the Valley. Has there been any instance of them being harassed in so many years? Their girls and young women can be seen begging but no one has been ever touched," he said.

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