First batch of Amarnath Yatra pilgrims left from Sonamrg’s Baltal camping ground and Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday for this years’ pilgrimage. The security officials, especially the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), have mobilised the highest level of security measures, including tracking systems through satellites and drones. State Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh flagged off the first batch of pilgrims 5 a.m. yesterday. The pilgrims left in as many as 72 vehicles. Home Minister Rajnath Singh, earlier on Tuesday, chaired a security review meeting in the wake of the Amarnath Yatra. Home Secretary, Director of the Intelligence Bureau, Joint Secretary Kashmir and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials were present in the meeting. Providing security for this year’s yatra has been a major concern for the Home Ministry as the pilgrimage is facing a terror threat, according to an intelligence warning.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have said that they have put all the necessary security arrangements in place so that the pilgrims have a hassle-free and safe journey. Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had earlier said the Amarnath Yatra is on the radar of Pakistan, but the Indian Government is prepared to tackle the issue. “The Amarnath Yatra issue always rakes up at this time of the year, as it is always on the radar of Pakistan. The Yatra will be concluded nicely, we have made all the necessary security arrangements and are keeping a close watch on the same,” Ahir said.
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Tension in the Valley was initially expected as the yearly Hindu pilgrims visit to the holy site during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela, coincides with the first anniversary of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.