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Amarnath Yatra: Amit Shah to Hold Review Meet on Tuesday; Infra, Border Security, Targeted Killings Top Agenda

CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh, who also heads the NIA, is expected to brief home minister Amit Shah on the ground situation. (File pic/PTI)

CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh, who also heads the NIA, is expected to brief home minister Amit Shah on the ground situation. (File pic/PTI)

Intelligence inputs suggest the threat to the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra, which will start from June 30, could come from Jammu. Special drives are being undertaken to secure the LoC and International Border in Jammu and Punjab

Union home minister Amit Shah has called for a review meeting ahead of the Amarnath Yatra, which starts from June 30, with Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, central government secretaries and top officials from the CRPF, BSF and NIA at 11 am on Tuesday.

Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has reached Delhi ahead of the meeting while senior officials like director-general of police (Jammu and Kashmir) Dilbagh Singh, chief secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, additional chief secretary (home) RK Goyal, Special director general CID Rashmi Ranjan Swain, director general of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Border Security Force (BSF), National Investigation Agency (NIA), Union home secretary and other officials are all expected to be part of the meeting.

L-G Manoj Sinha met defence minister Rajnath Singh ahead of the meeting and briefed him about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “Met Hon’ble Raksha Mantri, Shri Raj Nath Singh Ji @rajnathsingh today and discussed road infrastructure for Shri AmarnathJi Yatra and @BROindia assistance at difficult stretches in challenging terrain at high altitudes which will greatly ease the trek to the holy cave,” Sinha tweeted.

Officials told News18 that the meeting on Tuesday will not focus on security alone but all aspects of the Yatra. “Union secretaries of road transport, health, information and broadcasting amongst others are likely to join the meeting. It will be a comprehensive review of all aspects of the Yatra,” a central government official said.

The security situation, however, would be the dominant issue in the meeting, which comes amidst renewed tension in J&K over targeted killing of a Kashmiri Pandit, Rahul Bhatt, and explosion in a Katra bus. Intelligence inputs suggest that Pakistan backed terror groups would escalate their attempts to target Amarnath pilgrims and derail the yatra, which will start from June 30.

“Signs visible so far suggest that Jammu region will be targeted. The IED found in June last year was meant to be placed in a temple. The Sunjwan fidayeens wanted to target forces at any naka (check post) to derail the PM’s visit. It is very clear that the Jammu region has been their focus for the past one and half years,” an official in the security establishment told News18.

The security grid suspects that this year the Punjab border could also be a vulnerable point as far as threat for the Amarnath pilgrims is concerned. “The attack in Mohali at the intelligence headquarters, recovery of rocket launcher is not a coincidence. It is a plan hatched by the ISI to activate its Khalistan-Kashmir model. Jammu is being targeted to tell the world that the problem is not in Kashmir alone but the entire J&K,” a top intelligence official told News18.

As part of the home minister’s review, steps to prevent targeted killings and the border security in Jammu, Punjab and LoC will also be discussed. Drones, individual and vehicular radio-frequency identification, additional deployment of troops, proper tracking of convoys are all measures proposed this year by the state and central forces.

According to officials, special drives are being undertaken to secure the LoC and the International Border in Jammu and Punjab against infiltration.

Senior CRPF officials such as the director general and inspector general (operations) visited Jammu and the Valley ahead of the review meeting. CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh has reviewed the security arrangements for Amarnath pilgrimage at Yatri Niwas in Bhagwati Nagar of Jammu with top officials of the paramilitary force in the Valley.

DG Singh, who also heads the National Investigation Agency, is expected to brief the home minister on the ground situation. The NIA suspects that the Vaishno Devi pilgrims were attacked with a sticky bomb, which sent their bus from Katra in flames. Measures to avoid such eventualities for the Amarnath pilgrims will also be on the table.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration is also expected to share with the home ministry the requirement of additional companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) for deployment during the pilgrimage.

In the 2019 Amarnath Yatra, the home ministry had sanctioned 336 additional paramilitary companies. This year, around 400 companies could be deployed.

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