Undeterred by the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, 22,633 devotees today embarked on the pilgrimage amid stepped up security measures. Escorted by CRPF and police personnel, 3,289 pilgrims, comprising 2,283 men, 756 women and 250 sadhus and sadhvis, left in 68 vehicles in a convoy from Jammu for Baltal and Pahalgam base camps this morning, officials said. “We have high degree of security for passage of convoy of the Amarnath yatra,” Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Zone, Mandeep Bhandari said.
Officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) today informed Governor N N Vohra that “by 10.30 am, 18,838 pilgrims had left for the cave shrine from Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Baltal yatra camps.” As many as 5,556 pilgrims, who left Chandanwari, this morning will need to halt en-route and they will reach the shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas the next day, the officials said.
Jammu observed a complete shutdown today amid dozens of protests against the killings with heavy security being deployed in the winter capital. Bhandari said the situation in Jammu is peaceful and there are no reports of any untoward incident.
Since the beginning of the pilgrimage, 1,46,692 yatris have paid obeisance at the cave shrine. Yesterday, seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, were killed and 19 injured after terrorists targeted a bus in Anantnag district.
The pilgrims were travelling in the bus which was not part of the convoy of vehicles taking the Amarnath pilgrims with adequate security.
As many as 21,000 paramilitary personnel in addition to state police forces have been deployed for security of the pilgrimage routes. The number of paramilitary personnel deployed this year is 9,500 more than last year.