Vehicles tagged with electromagnetic chips, bike and bullet-proof SUV police convoys and scores of bullet-proof bunkers have been deployed as part of the “biggest-ever” security blanket thrown to secure pilgrims undertaking the Amarnath Yatra that begins in Jammu and Kashmir from tomorrow.
Over two lakh pilgrims have registered for the annual pilgrimage to the3,880 metre high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas till now.
A posse of over 40,000 armed CRPF and state police personnel have virtually dotted the yatra routes from Jammu– via Pahalgam and Baltal– with their overwhelming presence in armoured vehicles.
Forces have deployed a huge assortment of CCTV cameras and drones, assisted by mounted Army columns, to ensure that the yatra route is secured.”Each vehicle that has pilgrims and is part of the yatra is being tagged using RFID (radio frequency identification) tags and they will be monitored at a control room made operational here.
“Security forces have been given specific responsibility to sanitise routes and secure a select number of pilgrim vehicles by sandwiching them between bullet proof troop carriers,” a senior security official told PTI here.
The CRPF road clearing parties will keep sweeping yatra roads against possible improvised explosive device (IEDs) threats to yatra convoys from early morning till late evening, he said.
The top official added that these arrangements are the “biggest-ever deployment of the security paraphernalia to ensure protection to the annual yatra that comes in the backdrop of a long and turbulent time of violence in the Kashmir Valley.”
“Thousands of such tags have been purchased and are being stuck on vehicles. They cost about Rs 72 a piece and they will help give a clear picture to security forces in case a yatra vehicle is lost in the way or takes a wrong route. QRTs will immediately be scarmbled to track such a four-wheeler,” a CRPF officer said.
P P Pauly, Commandant of the 73rd battalion of the force, said a control room has been created at his camp in Bemina to track all the RFID-bearing vehicles even as a 100 personnel strong squad has been kept on standby to respond to any untoward incident.
A special desk has been set up at the Srinagar International Airport by the CRPF to register pilgrims and to tag their vehicles from there, in an extension to the exercise that is taking place at the land borders that leads to Jammu and Kashmir.
The Central Reserve Police Force also launched bike-borne quick reaction teams (QRTs) yesterday that will not only respond to any sabotage incident on the yatra route but also double up as an ambulance to rescue unwell pilgrims, security personnel or locals, the official said.