The high-level meeting attended by Lt Gov Manoj Sinha, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, and the heads of intelligence and security agencies also took stock of the preparedness for the Amarnath yatra that is scheduled to begin June 30 after two years.
On May 12, Rahul Bhat, a government employee, was killed by terrorists inside his office in Budgam district. A day after the death of the Kashmiri Pandit, police constable Reyaz Ahmad Thokar was shot dead by terrorists at his residence in the Pulwama district. Last week, four pilgrims were killed and at least 20 injured when the bus they were traveling in caught fire near Katra in Jammu. Police suspect a sticky bomb might have been used to trigger the fire.
Bhat's killing triggered protests by members of the Kashmiri Pandit community who staged protests in the Valley demanding enhanced security and transfer of government employees to safer locations. On Sunday, the Peoples Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), a conglomerate of major J-K parties, urged Kashmiri Pandit employees not to leave the Valley as it was their home and it would be “painful for all.”
To ensure that the Amarnath Yatra, a significant security challenge given the recent incidents of violence, goes off smoothly, the Central government will deploy at least 12,000 paramilitary personnel and thousands of Jammu Kashmir Police. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the annual pilgrimage to the high-altitude cave shrine could not happen in 2020 and 2021. In 2019, it was cut short just before the abrogation of Article 370.
About three lakh pilgrims are likely to participate in the yatra, which is expected to end on August 11.