Army’s new security measures to protect Amarnath pilgrims

The recent intelligent reports placed before the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh revealed that Pakistan is ready to infiltrate around 450 new Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) recruits trained by its elite special forces the Special Service Group (SSG) and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to carry out a major strike ahead of the Amarnath Yatra.

To ensure that the upcoming Amarnath Yatra is conducted in a smooth manner, security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are undergoing training in Srinagar.

Last year, seven people were killed and 19 injured after terrorists attacked a bus carrying pilgrims to the cave shrine.

To avoid a reoccurrence of the terror attack, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) for the first time will monitor all vehicles using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

“The technology will be introduced as a pilot project this time. It uses an electromagnetic field to automatically keep a track of the movement of a vehicle,” said Director General of CRPF RR Bhatnagar.

He added that the aim of the pilot project is to put a tag on as many vehicles as possible on the yatra route so that security forces can monitor their movement and ensure that no vehicle deviates from the route.

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Investigations into last year’s attack had revealed that the bus which was attacked was not moving in the prescribed route for the yatra.

Besides this, security forces will also ensure round the clock surveillance using drones and CCTV cameras that will be live monitored from a control centre.

At present, three CRPF companies are undergoing pre-induction training in Srinagar’s Bemina to acclimatise troops with local environs. Besides adjusting to the terrain, the troops are also being trained to face adverse situations like stone-pelting, grenade attack, targeting or abduction of tourist, attack on pilgrims and IED blasts.

In an interview, the Assistant Commandant Deepak Kumar of the 39 CRPF Battalion said, “The pre-induction training is important for us because before coming to J&K, we were in Karnataka for 52 days. Handling an assembly election and being posted in J&K are very different situations.”

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He said the purpose of the ongoing training is to “refresh the troops and familiarise them” with the cultural sensitivities of the people and handle the pilgrimage in a responsible manner.

Commandant Randeep Sharma, who is organising the training, said, “The three-day drill is to ensure that the troops are aware of the ground situation. Though many of our jawans have some previous experience of serving in Kashmir, utmost coordination is required. There is no scope for mistakes.”

Officials privy to the preparations have told that 213 companies of security forces will be deployed for the yatra. This will be 15 more than the number deployed in 2017.

Among the forces deployed, 65 companies are of the CRPF alone, along with one Mahlia Battalion. Besides the CRPF, the deployment comprises three companies of the Border Security Force and 26 of the Sashastra Seema Bal. The Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police will also keep vigil over pilgrimage.

On Thursday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also visited the state and chaired a high-level meeting of security forces to review arrangements for the yatra and the overall security scenario of Jammu and Kashmir.


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