Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik on Sunday said restrictions on civilian traffic on the National Highway during the Amarnath Yatra had been reduced to just two hours, Hindustan Times reported.
“People know what has happened on this highway,” he said, referring to an attack on pilgrims in 2017 in which seven devotees were killed. “There are just two hours of restrictions…this much [people] should bear. The restriction time has been reduced to just two hours now.”
The state government had banned civilian traffic for five hours a day from July 1 in order to allow unrestricted access to vehicles carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims. The movement of civilian vehicles has been banned from Nashri and Qazigund in Ramban district.
The governor also appeared to dismiss concerns that the restrictions would affect tourism, Greater Kashmir reported. “Look at the tourist places like Gulmarg and Pahalgam,” he said. “They are flooded with the tourists irrespective of those who come for the pilgrimage.”
Malik declared that the pilgrims were happy with the hospitality extended to them during the pilgrimage by Kashmiris. “Yatris like people of Kashmir,” he said. “Let me tell you again the pilgrimage has been conducted in Kashmir only because of the support of the locals. The pilgrims are also satisfied with the security and administrative-level arrangements. Everything is going on smoothly.”
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh agreed that proper security arrangements had been made for the pilgrimage.
The 46-day-long yatra, which will conclude on August 15, was flagged off from the Pahalgam and Baltal base camps on July 1. 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.”
Last year, around 11 devotees died during the pilgrimage.