Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, Wednesday took a detailed review of arrangements including security for the 45 days-long Amarnath Yatra and developmental projects in Kashmir at meeting at Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC) here.
In the meeting Shah directed all security agencies to be fully alert and take all preventive steps to ensure violence-free Yatra, which will commence from 1 July.
Shah laid emphasis on various points critical for the security of the Yatra after detailed deliberations with the State administration and top security officers.
The Home Minister directed the senior officers to personally supervise the arrangements and ensure there is no laxity, Special Secretary (Internal security), Minister of Home Affairs (MHA), A.P Maheshwari told reporters at a press conference here.
He said that Shah told the officers to ensure “strict enforcement of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Yatra.”
Maheshwari said that Home Minister asked the forces to ensure best possible optimum use of latest technologies and the gadgets not only for the security of the Yatra but also to facilitate the movement of the devotees and the tourists.
Shah specifically drew attention of the forces towards anti-sabotage as well as anti-subversion drills and the access control procedures, he said.
During the meeting Maheshwari said Shah underlined the importance of SOP for the Yatra convoy movement and that of convoys.
“After the cut-off timings, barricades should be erected at suitable locations and no differentiation should be made between yatris and tourists,” Shah told the officers.
Located in the mountains of Pahalgam, lakhs of people from across India visit the Amarnath cave for pilgrimage every year. Two routes—one via Pahalgam in Anantnag district and another through Baltal in Sonamarg in Ganderbal district—provide connectivity to the holy cave.
In the wake of recent militant attacks which inflicted heavy damage to forces in south Kashmir, Shah directed the officers of security grid to install barricades at all lateral entry points of the highway from Jammu to Kashmir during Yatra convoy movement.
“All lateral points should be manned 24x7,” Shah directed officers in his maiden meeting in Srinagar.
He is on two-day visit to Kashmir and is likely review the overall security scenarios in the State on Thursday.
Besides Maheshwari the meeting was attended by Governor Satya Pal Malik, Union Home secretary Rajiv Gauba, State Chief secretary B.V.R Subramanium, General officer Commanding (GOC) Northern Command, Lt General Ranbir Singh, top officers of central Armed forces and central agencies, top Army commanders, State Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan among others.
The meeting was held amid tight security around the venue while roads leading to SKICC were sealed and motorists were subjected to travel via alternate routes.
Sources said the decision to barricade lateral points of the highway was taken for safe passage of Yatra vehicles as security agencies observed these locations as threat to the security.
Maheshwari said the Home Minister also emphasized upon the officials to ensure preparedness to deal with any type of calamity or contingency during the Yatra.
“Specialized units and trained personnel should be in place with due focus on the prescribed drills for the purpose,” he quoted Shah as having told the officials.
“Best possible facilities should be provided in the base camps.”
The Special Secretary said that Shah laid emphasis on the essential facilities for those deputed on the arrangements of the Yatra and underscored the need for all the duty personnel to ensure proper conduct all throughout.
“There should be no complacency on part of security forces or duty staff at any point of time during whole Yatra period,” Shah told the officers.
Maheshwari said Shah also directed all the forces and agencies to continue taking strict action against miscreants in the State.
In order to obviate any type of risk to the Yatra, Shah also reiterated to the security grid to cover all the sensitive and vulnerable places including possible points of infiltration all throughout the State.
The Home Minister appreciated the cooperation of the people of the State in successful conduct of the Yatra and reassured the commitment towards best possible arrangements.