Amit Shah inspects Amarnath Yatra preparations and requests that J&K officials conduct proactive anti-terror operations.
In three back-to-back meetings on Tuesday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah advocated for proactive coordinated counter-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir, as he reviewed the situation there as well as arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra, and asked security forces to ensure zero cross-border infiltration to eradicate terrorism in the union territory.
The home minister's marathon sessions occurred in the wake of recent targeted killings in the valley, including that of a Kashmiri Pandit, Rahul Bhat, who was killed by militants last week.
Shah was informed that this year's 42-day yatra, which begins on June 30, will be attended by Lt Governor of JK Manoj Sinha, police chief Dibag Singh, and other high central and union territory officials.
While Sinha was present at all three meetings, Ajit Doval, the National Security Advisor, and Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande also attended to discuss the security situation in the union territory.
According to an official spokesman, the home minister has directed security forces and police to launch proactive counter-terrorism operations.
To achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a prosperous and peaceful Jammu and Kashmir, the home minister said security forces must ensure zero cross-border infiltration in order to eradicate terrorism in the union territory.
The JK chief secretary informed the gathering, according to the speaker, that each pilgrim will be given an RFID and will be insured for Rs 5 lakh. RFID was previously available.
The Shah administration has mandated that all arrangements, including additional electricity, water, and telecom facilities, be prepared to ensure a "hassle-free" pilgrim journey.
He also emphasized the importance of improving mobile connectivity along the yatra route and requested that earth moving equipment be stationed at strategic locations to clear the road in the event of landslides.
Because of the high altitude, suitable arrangements will have to be made for yatris who have any health-related difficulties, he said.
The home minister requested enough oxygen cylinders, medical beds at a height of over 6,000 feet, and the deployment of ambulances and helicopters in the event of an emergency.
For the sake of passenger convenience, all types of transportation services should be increased during the Amarnath Yatra.
During the conference, it was also resolved to enable WiFi hotspots throughout the 39-kilometer yatra route from Pahalgam in south Kashmir to ensure connectivity. The alternate route takes a pilgrim almost 15 kilometers across Baltal in central Kashmir.
The yatra, which poses a significant security risk to the government, was canceled in 2020 and 2021 owing to the coronavirus pandemic and was cut short in 2019 just before Article 370 was repealed.
The trip, which is set to end on August 11, is expected to attract almost three lakh people.
Officials expect over 12,000 paramilitary men (120 companies) to be deployed along the two pilgrimage routes, one from Pahalgam and the other via Baltal, in addition to Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Drone cameras will assist security forces in ensuring the pilgrims' safety.
Aside from the Amarnath pilgrimage, the sessions focused on security, particularly in light of multiple targeted killings in Kashmir, including Kashmiri Pandits.
Since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted Jammu and Kashmir special status, in August 2019, there has been a spike in attacks on non-Muslims and outsiders living in the Kashmir valley.
The security review comes after a string of assassinations in the union area. Terrorists assassinated Bhat, a government official, inside his office in Budgam district on May 12. Terrorists shot and killed police constable Reyaz Ahmad Thokar at his home in the Pulwama district the next day.
Last week, a bus carrying four pilgrims caught fire near Katra in Jammu, killing four and injuring at least 20 others. The fire may have been started by a sticky explosive, according to police.
Members of the Kashmiri Pandit community organized protests in the Valley following Bhat's death, demanding increased security and the relocation of government officials to safer areas.
The Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a coalition of major J-K parties, asked Kashmiri Pandit employees not to leave the Valley, saying it would be terrible for everyone.
The meeting brought together top officials from the ministries of health, telecom, road transport, civil aviation, and information technology to plan logistics for the yearly trip to the 3,888-meter-high cave shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.