The annual Amarnath Yatra began on Monday amid tight security arrangements, reported PTI. The 46-day-long yatra, which will conclude on August 15, was flagged off from the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps.
More than 1.5 lakh pilgrims have registered for the pilgrimage so far. A spokesperson of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board said there were 2,234 pilgrims, including 17 children, in the first batch. The second batch of 4,417 pilgrims, including 31 children, left from Bhagwati Nagar base camp for Pahalgam and Baltal.
“A robust security cover has been put in place for the yatra which includes satellite and chip-based tracking of vehicles and pilgrims,” said shrine board officials. “The deployment of forces is in various layers to ensure smooth conduct of the pilgrimage.”
Authorities have issued barcode-enabled slips to pilgrims to keep track of the actual number of people, reported ANI. “This is the first time Sri Amarnath Shrine Board has taken this kind of initiative for the security of the pilgrims,” said Krishan Lal, the director of the Baltal base camp. “Now there are two systems to manage the total count of the pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra, first is the traditional way of gathering information through banks in which there is a numerical number and barcode, which is being scanned and a database is maintained. Second is the online registration facility in which around 50 pilgrims can register. In the online forms, there is a different QR code for each person which is then added to our database. A team of Central Reserved Police Force has been deployed for this task.”
Radio-frequency identification tags are being used to track pilgrims. Security agencies will have drones and satellites at their disposal to monitor the yatra. Automatic number plate reading cameras will take pictures of number plates of vehicles in Jawahar tunnel.
“While barcoding and RFID were pilot projects during last yatra, this year it has been fully implemented,” Amit Kumar, the second-in-command in the CRPF headquarters, told India Today. “Each yatri and each vehicle is accounted for.”
Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satyapal Malik reviewed the arrangements during the day. He emphasised the need for effective supervision and round-the-clock monitoring.
Last year, at least 11 pilgrims died during the yatra. The annual pilgrimage was halted for a few days due to the poor condition of roads after the state received heavy rainfall.