#Day41: Amarnath Yatra Concludes Today; CRPF To Strengthen Kashmir Security Grid

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

Para-military CRPF men manning Srinagar streets after clashes with protesting youths. (KL Image: Bilal Bahadur)
Para-military CRPF men manning Srinagar streets after clashes with protesting youths. (KL file Image: Bilal Bahadur)

The 48-day annual Hindu Amarnath Yatra concluded on Thursday with over 2.20 lakh Yatris visiting the cave shrine in 2016.

The number of Yatris visiting the cave drastically decreased this year after mass protests engulfed entire Kashmir valley, a day after popular Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed in South Kashmir’s Kokernag area on July 8, 2016 evening.

It was in 2011 and 2013 that a record breaking number of Yatris (6.35 lakh) visited the cave shrine, however, the number remained as low as 1.70 lakh in 2003.

“There was increase in deployment of CRPF for Amarnath Yatra after Burhan Wani died,” PRO CRPF, Rajesh Yadav, told Kashmir Life. “More CRPF companies were called in from outside J&K.”

Burhan Wani was a popular militant commander who was killed on July 08, 2016 evening by forces in Kokernag area of South Kashmir.

Initially, the 2016 Amarnath Yatra was being manned by Kashmir based 47 companies of para-military CRPF men besides armed cops of J&K Police.

The PRO added, “it is not only CRPF but personnel of ITBP, BSF, CISF and SSB also give protection to Yatra and it is impossible to give exact number of forces personnel manning it.”

An official looking after wellbeing of Amarnath Yatris, posted in Amarnath Yatra cell Srinagar, told Kashmir Life that a total of 220399 Yatris came to Srinagar from Jammu base camp to visit Amarnath cave till Wednesday late evening.

“There will be puja at the cave this evening and Chaddi Mubarak will return to Srinagar on July 20,” he said, “there will no more convoy of Yatris from Jammu now.”

“Right now, 73 CRPF companies are manning Yatra routes,” Yadav said. He said that 26 more CRPF companies were brought to Kashmir for Yatra after Burhan Wani was killed on July 08, 2016.

When asked about the total number of companies including ITBP, BSF, CISF and SSB, Yadav said, “it is more than 130 companies.”

“Let us see what the situation demands,” he said when asked whether the additional troops will be sent back to their base camps outside J&K. “Right now, situation is under control but little bit more strict curfew is needed to get things to normal.”

“It is neither required nor desired to deploy security forces in villages and everywhere in Kashmir. We will only deploy them at critical points to plug the holes,” Atul Karwal, IGP of CRPF in Srinagar had told The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail report suggests that 40 additional CRPF companies were brought in from outside the state to manage the Kashmir crisis.

“More cooperation is needed from public; shops, educational institutions should open which will in turn help people,” he asserted.

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