Two days before the resumption of the Amarnath Yatra, security has been tightened in Jammu and Kashmir with special emphasis on use of over 130 sniffer dogs on the vehicle routes heading towards the shrine. This has been done to ensure safe pilgrimage amid heightened terror threat. The Amarnath Yatrs will resume after two years.
A top government official, requesting anonymity, told ANI that this is the first time when the security forces have been using a maximum number of sniffer dogs to check the use of explosives by terrorists to disrupt the 43-day annual pilgrimage beginning on June 30. "In this year's Amarnath Yatra, we have specially deployed a maximum number of sniffer dogs. Over 130 sniffer dogs are currently deployed on routes from Srinagar and Jammu towards holy Amarnath cave to detect explosives suspected to be used by the terrorist outfits to disrupt the annual pilgrimage," he said
Among the sniffer dogs deployed in Jammu and Kashmir are the most commonly used breeds-- German Shepherd, Belgian Malinois and Labrador.
Due to the latest intelligence inputs regarding use of grenades, sticky bombs and Improvised Explosive Device, security forces are using sniffer dogs to avert any eventuality during the pilgrimage.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had also informed the Central government last week that Pakistan-based commanders of proscribed terrorist organisations are trying terrorist activities by targeting minorities, security personnel and religious pilgrimages including holy Shri Amaranthji Yatra, Shri Vaishno Devi Yatra and other similar religious activities.
Considering threats, over 200 drones are being used on twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal to keep a tab on each and every activities, said the official. He added that a major threat is suspected from cadres of offshoots of proscribed terrorist organisations such as "The Resistance Front (TRF), People Anti-Fascist Forces (PAFF)".
The investigation has unearthed a deep-rooted conspiracy of Pakistan-based proscribed terrorist organisations joining hands in form of a united group and shifting their modus operandi by floating pseudo offshoot outfits portrayed as indigenous resistance groups, in whose name terrorist acts are being committed with an intention to claim deniability at the international level. After the abrogation of article 370, this shift was discernible in claims of terrorist acts done in Jammu and Kashmir.
Many affiliates or offshoots outfits such as The Resistance Front (TRF), People Against Fascist Forces (PAFF), United Liberation Front J-K (ULF J-K), Muslim Janbaaz Force (MJF), Kashmir Janbaaz Force (KJF), Kashmir Tigers, Kashmir Fight, Mujahideen Gazwat-ul-Hind, Kashmir Gaznavi Force etc have suddenly mushroomed, laying claims to various terrorist acts.
Another official mentioned an intelligence report regarding use of sticky bombs of a minimum of half kg and grenade attack.
The official said that it is learnt that terrorists have started asssembling at launching pads along the border on the Pakistan side. It is supected that they will enter through riverine areas, and tunnels during the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage which is scheduled to culminate on August 11.
The deployment of security forces in Jammu and Kashmir has been doubled for the Amarmath Yatra compared to the previous year.
High-tech gadgets like IED detectors and binoculars are being used "first time" during the annual pilgrimage of Hindus, the official said, adding "these gadgets include some of them manufactured by Israel".
Another officer in the CRPF said that for the first time, an "integrated" effort is being put across all forces concerned including Army, CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Jammu and Kashmir administration and Amarnathji Shrine Board members.
The Amarnath shrine pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Lord Shiva, located in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, is held from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal.
The Jammu and Kashmir government had cancelled the annual Amarnath pilgrimage due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in 2020 and 2021 after a discussion with Amarnathji Shrine Board members