The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims left the Jammu base camp for the cave shrine in the Kashmir Valley amid tight security arrangements on Wednesday morning, ANI reported. The 40-day-long Amarnath Yatra begins on Thursday. Border Security Force Director General KK Sharma had warned of a high threat of militant attacks ahead of the Amarnath Yatra on Tuesday.

Nirmal Singh, the deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, flagged off the annual Amarnath Yatra at approximately 5 am on Wednesday.

A total of 2,280 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here for the Himalayan cave shrine in Anantnag district in 72 vehicles at 5.22 am, a police official said. A multi-layered security arrangement, comprising the Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the Jammu and Kashmir Police, has been deployed to provide a safe passage to the pilgrims. The authorities have organised the highest level of security measures, including a satellite tracking system, reported PTI.

Senior separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani has said that nobody would harm or obstruct the performance of pilgrims’ religious duties, reported IANS.

Citing an intelligence note received by the senior superintendent of police in Anantnag, Mumbai Mirror on Tuesday had reported that militants have been “directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 officers”. There are higher threats of a militant attack during the pilgrimage this year as Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s first death anniversary is coming up on July 8.