Over 1.15 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at ice lingum of Lord Shiva at the 3,880-metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir himalayas. The seventh batch of 2,246 pilgrims today left winter capital city of Jammu for twin base-camps of Amarnath cave shrine. With the death of three more pilgrims due to various reasons yesterday, the toll in the ongoing pilgrimage went up to nine. “Today, 10,461 pilgrims paid obeisance at the Holy Cave and, cumulatively, since the beginning of the pilgrimage, 1,15,841 yatris have had darshan of the ice lingam,” an official spokesman said.
Escorted by the CRPF, the pilgrims consisting of 1,748 men, 401 women and 97 sadhus and sadhvis left in 75 vehicles for Baltal and Pahalgam base camps of Amarnath cave shrine this morning, officials said. With today’s batch, a total of 25,294 pilgrims and sadhus have left Jammu for Amarnath since yatra began from Jammu on June 28. Amid multi-tier security, 40-days long Amarnath yatra began on June 28 from Jammu when first batch of pilgrims left for twin base camps.
The annual Yatra in Kashmir began amid a terror threat, according to an intelligence warning which has prompted the authorities to mobilise the “highest level” of security measures, including satellite tracking system. Militants are planning to target 100 policemen and as many pilgrims participating in the yatra. The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of over 35,000 to 40,000 troops including the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF.
In addition to the existing strength of the CRPF in the state, the Centre has provided over 250 companies (around 25,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to the state government. The BSF has deployed over 2,000 troops for the yatra while the Army has provided five battalions (about 5,000 personnel) and additional 54 companies (5,400 personnel) of the police have also been mobilised. This year’s yatra will be eight days shorter as compared to the last year’s of 48 days, and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.