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Amarnath Yatra to begin on June 30 amid heavy security, 3 lakh pilgrims registered so far

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The Amarnath Yatra is scheduled to begin on June 30 amid unprecedented security arrangements and so far as many as three lakh pilgrims have registered for the annual yatra, said an official. 

The registration for the 43 days long Amarnath Yatra was commenced on April 11, by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) through 566 designated branches of various banks. 

The yatra will commence from twin routes traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal — after a break of two years following the Covid outbreak.

The first batch of pilgrims, including Sadhus, will leave for the twin base camps of Kashmir from Bhagwati Nagar and Ram Mandir in Jammu a day ahead of the official commencement of the yatra which will culminate, according to tradition, on the day of ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival on August 11.

The government has introduced a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system to track the movements of pilgrims for security concerns. 

Additional Director General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh said security-related arrangements are complete for the yatra which is being conducted under the surveillance and close coordination of various security agencies.

“We have been provided with a sufficient number of security personnel and the deployment (of the forces for the yatra) is complete,” he said, expressing confidence that the yatra will be conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.

The ADGP said since sabotage by terrorists is the biggest challenge during the yatra, the police have also launched an awareness campaign to inform the public, especially drivers, about various steps which are required to be followed to avoid any untoward incident.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Udhampur, has started an awareness campaign in the district which falls on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway to inform the drivers about the threat of sticky bombs.

“Such a campaign will be taken to all the districts and we are fully confident that the yatra will culminate in a peaceful manner,” he said. During this year’s yatra, SASB has decided to put in place a daily route-wise pilgrim’s ceiling of 10,000, excluding those travelling by helicopters.

The board has also decided to extend the free-of-cost battery car service for the pilgrims at the 2.75 km-long Baltal to Domel stretch.

Hundreds of pilgrims including Sadhus, have already started arriving in Jammu and are enthusiastic about undertaking the pilgrimage, a symbol of communal harmony and brotherhood.

According to SASB, no one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years, and no woman with more than six weeks’ pregnancy, is registered for the yatra.

Over 3.42 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shiv lingam from July 1 to August 1, 2019, before the government cancelled the yatra midway ahead of the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories (on August 5, 2019).

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