From unmanned aerial vehicles to satellite trackers, this year’s Amarnath Yatra began from two routes in the Kashmir Valley Monday with security deploying technology at a level never seen before in the annual pilgrimage.
“This year, we are using unmanned aerial vehicles, including drones, to secure the yatra route from Jammu to the holy cave. Also, a bar-code system and satellite trackers are being used to keep a track of pilgrims and convoy movements,” CRPF IG Ravideep Singh Sahi told The Indian Express.
According to Sahi, all vehicles related to the yatra have been radio-tagged with an upgraded system. “We have used RFID tags (Radio Frequency Identification) on all the vehicles being used in the yatra. We have electronic readers at various places. As soon as a vehicle with an RFID tag crosses a point, the reader captures the location. The CRPF used RFID tags last year too, but this time it has been upgraded,” he said. Another new feature, officials said, is the yatri (pilgrim) management system. “Each yatri is being monitored at an individual level also. Bar-coding is being used at the time of registration, which tells us the location of a particular pilgrim during the pilgrimage,” said Sahi.
The annual yatra began from the Pahalgam and Baltal routes, with J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik arriving at the holy cave in the morning.
The CRPF is escorting the pilgrim convoys from Jammu to Baltal and Pahalgam. This time, sources say, CRPF has deployed personnel to man the link roads as well. “We have deployed forces on the link roads along the yatra to ensure the safety of pilgrims on the route starting from Jammu till the base camp,” said the CRPF officer.
The Baltal camp in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district has been “completely secured” by a joint security team. Other than setting up pickets on nearby hills, the number of forces deployed has been increased this year.
“Post the Pulwama terror attack, there are some new challenges. But we are taking all steps to address those challenges,” said a senior security officer at the Baltal camp. He added that live CCTV footage is being used by forces on vehicles for security.
Early Monday morning, about 6,000 pilgrims, singing bhajans and chanting slogans, started the trek from the base camp.
“We are impressed by the hospitality of people here. We keep hearing on TV that the situation is not well in Kashmir. But on the ground, we found that everything is fine,” says Ajay Singh, a first-time pilgrim from Bihar.
Yatra first: 5 hour traffic curb on NH stretch
Srinagar: J&K government has put a ban on civilian traffic for five hours daily on the 97-km Qazigund-Nashri stretch on Srinagar- Jammu National Highway, in view of Amarnath Yatra. This is the first time when the J&K government has ordered restrictions on the civilian traffic on the highway during the Amarnath pilgrimage- which began on Monday. “There will be no vehicle movement in the opposite or same direction as the yatra convoy between Nashri and Qazigund…Arrangement will be made so that non-convoy yatri vehicles move on the Nashri-Qazigund stretch after or before the Yatri convoy. The time for this could possibly be between 10 am to 3 pm…” reads an order issued by the IGP Traffic Alok Kumar.—ENS