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Defence minister visits Valley to take stock of yatra security

Defence minister NirmalaSitharaman on Monday directed the top security brass to ensure “no sabotage of the upcoming Amarnathyatra by anti-peace elements.” She also lauded the forces for successful anti-militancy operations hoping that “well-coordinated operations would ultimately lead to a secure atmosphere in the Valley.”

The defence minister arrived in Srinagar in the morning along with army chief General BipinRawat and was received by top army commanders including northern army commander lieutenant general Ranbir Singh and general officer commanding of Srinagar-based 15 corps, lieutenant general A K Bhat.

Sitharaman chaired a crucial security review meeting at Rajbhavan which was attended by Governor N N Vohra, Army chief, chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam, DGP S P Vaid, advisors to Governor and GoC 15 Corps.

The defence minister also went to BB Cantonment where she was briefed about the evolving security scenario in the Valley.

“The minister was apprised about the counter infiltration and counter militancy operations undertaken in the recent past,” defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told, “She commended the commanders and troops for the excellent operational successes, which have contributed significantly towards improving the security environment in Kashmir Valley.”

An official spokesman said that Sitharaman reviewed the security framework put in place by the forces for the yatra and stressed that all security agencies must act with complete synergy to achieve effective security on the ground.

“She reiterated the importance of a secure environment to enable a smooth yatra and encouraging maximum tourist arrivals in the state,” the spokesman said. “Defence minister advised the security agencies to constantly review and identify any gap in the security arrangements and ensure swift and targeted counter terror responses on the ground.”

The minister also visited Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district and carried an aerial survey of the area.

This year 240 additional companies of forces have been deployed en-route to cave shrine which is a twenty percent increase since last year. Besides, 20,000 policemen have also been assigned yatra duty. Last year, the militants had attacked a pilgrim bus in Anantnag district resulting in death of nine pilgrims and injuries to 18 others. Police had later killed the alleged mastermind Lashkar commander Abu Ismail in a brief encounter at Aribagh in Nowgam area of Srinagar.

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