Jammu, Jun 24 - The annual Amarnath yatra is all set to begin on Sunday when the first batch of pilgrims left early morning for the cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas from the basecamp in Jammu amid tight security.
"The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims from Jammu will be flagged off from Bagwati Nagar basecamp of Amarnath yatra at around 0400 hours tomorrow (Sunday)", Minister for Industries and Commerce Surjit Singh Salathia told reporters in Jammu on Saturday evening.
Salathia, who reviewed the arrangements made by various departments for the smooth conduct of the yatra, said the convoy of pilgrims will leave for the shrine under heavy escort.
A total of 3.5 lakh pilgirmas have already been registered for the yatra which will conclude on August 2 on Raksha Bhandan.
Geared up to ensure incident-free and peaceful pilgrimage CRPF has activated its security set-up and deployed 57 companies for security of the Yatra.
"As many as 57 security companies have been deployed for the yatra in Jammu and Kashmir," a senior CRPF officer said.
He said of these, 12 companies have been put on job for security of Amarnath yatra in Jammu region, while 45 companies have been deployed in the valley for the yatra.
The security set-up of CRPF for the yatra has been activated including deployment at Bagwati Nagar basecamp in Jammu besides other camps en route to Kashmir valley and also escort of Yatra convoy from Jammu to Baltal and Pahalgam basecamps in Kashmir valley apart from Highway security.
There are some companies of ITBP and BSF also deployed in south Kashmir Himalayas -- the abode of the cave shrine.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu Pradeep Gupta briefed the Minister about the arrangements made by the divisional administration for comfortable stay of pilgrims at the Jammu basecamp and their smooth transportation to Kashmir valley.
He asked the officers concerned to ensure uninterrupted power supply and provision of adequate drinking water to yatries at places where they will be accommodated.
Arrangements with regard to security and deployment of manpower for smooth conduct of the yatra were finalised at a high level meeting under the chairmanship of Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar.
The DGP sought reports from officers representing various agencies in the meeting and was briefed about the arrangements put in place for safety and security of the yatris.
Intelligence gathering and information sharing would help in foiling any ill design of the miscreants, for which frequent meetings should be convened at different levels, the DGP said.
Joint control rooms established at different destinations on the twin routes would also help maintain coordination among the security agencies besides helping them in assessment of the situation on a daily basis, he said.
He said volunteers should also be pressed into service to provide assistance to yatris. He said sufficient police personnel have already been deployed with required logistics to conduct the yatra in a befitting manner.
He said alternative routes could be taken if need be and only registered pilgrims be allowed to move towards the holy cave. PTI