Amid high security, the first batch of pilgrims to Amarnath left for the famous cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir early this morning. More than 40,000 security forces personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage season.
1.6 lakh people from across the country have registered for the 46-day long yatra that begins today
The first batch of pilgrims had left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley on Sunday. The pilgrimage season that officially opened today will see people starting their journeys from the Pahalgam and the Baltal base camps in the valley.
"The security for the yatra is our responsibility and we are taking care of it. But police or Army do not conduct the yatra. For many years, the Amarnath Yatra is being conducted by the people of Kashmir, especially our Muslim brothers. The yatra takes place with their support," Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik told reporters in Srinagar.
Ahead of the Amarnath Yatra, Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh took stock of the security and traffic arrangements on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on Sunday.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah too had reviewed the security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir last week.
"It will be a peaceful yatra. From the next year onwards, we will not have to worry about the security situation at all," said Minister of State for Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh who was in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday.
Keeping in mind the security challenges that emerged after the Pulwama terror attack in February, the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) has deployed an enhanced number of its counter-IED teams that will sweep roads and vehicles.
In 2017, terrorists attacked a bus carrying pilgrims, leaving eight pilgrims dead and several injured. Last year the pilgrimage season went off peacefully.
Situated at 3,888 metres above sea-level, the Amarnath shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that symbolises the mythical powers of Lord Shiva, according to the devotees.
Pilgrims trek through mountains to reach the holy cave in the Himalayas in south Kashmir. The pilgrimage will end on August 15, the day of Shravan Purnima, according to the Hindu calendar.
(With inputs from ANI)