Over 500 pay obeisance at Amarnath;2nd batch starts from Jammu

Srinagar/Jammu
29 Jun 2017

More than 500 pilgrims today paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Amarnath while the second batch of 2,481 pilgrims left from Jammu for the twin base- camps of the yatra, amid tight security. The pilgrims, comprising 1,638 males, 663 females and 180 sages, left for the base-camps in 66 vehicles, a police officer said. The pilgrims are being escorted by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicles, the officer said. Meanwhile, another police official said, "The yatra began early this morning from both the routes. So far more than 500 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice-lingam."  The 40-day long Amarnath yatra began from Jammu yesterday with first batch of pilgrims leaving for the twin base-camps of Pahalgam and Baltal of the 3,888-metre high cave shrine. The pilgrimage had yesterday began from here with the first batch of 2,280 devotees leaving for the high altitude shrine. An ITBP officer had yesterday died of cardiac arrest near the cave shrine in South Kashmir, while a community kitchen operator died today after getting hit on the head by a rock at Brarimarg on Baltal route to the cave shrine. The annual yatra began amid a terror threat which has prompted the authorities to mobilise the "highest level" of security measures including satellite tracking system. Special Director General of the CRPF, S N Shrivastava had said on Tuesday, "This (yatra) is a big challenge to us. Elaborate security has been put in place for incident free yatra and also to ensure safety and security of pilgrims and camps in the state."  "Intelligence input received from the SSP Anantnag reveals that terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 police officers and personnel," according to a letter sent by IG (Kashmir zone) Muneer Khan to the Army, the CRPF, and range DIGs in the state on Sunday. At this stage, the possibility of a sensational attack by a terrorist outfit cannot be ruled out, he said. The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of over 35,000 to 40,000 personnel including of the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF. This year, the Amarnath yatra will be eight days shorter than last year's 48 days and will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7. Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, the shrine stands at 3,888 metres, 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.(PTI)