New Delhi: Ahead of the annual pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath, security personnel deployed in Jammu and Kashmir will be equipped with high-tech gadgets being used “first time” during the Hindu pilgrimage amid specific concern regarding the use of “sticky bombs” by terrorists, said a report. The special gadgets, whose names are withheld due to security reasons, are learnt to be used for some specific purpose, a source in security wind requesting anonymity told ANI. The Yatra is all set to start on June 30 after a gap of two years.

“These gadgets include some of them manufactured by Israel,” he told ANI, adding that the number of drones for surveillance is being increased during the pilgrimage and it is estimated that over 50 are to be used only on twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal.

Another CRPF officer told ANI that for the first time, an “integrated” effort is being put across all forces concerned including Army, CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police, Jammu and Kashmir administration and Amarnathji Shrine Board members. The officer reportedly said that security agencies are concerned over terrorist groups possessing “sticky bombs” — explosives that can be attached to vehicles and detonated remotely — and are reshaping their standard operating procedure for the pilgrimage.

Notably, online registration for Amarnath Yatra 2022 has started on April 11 and the Home Ministry has already sanctioned over 200 companies of Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) for the purpose to provide security during the pilgrimage. The pilgrimage is scheduled to be held for 43 days between June 30 and August 11.

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The Amarnath shrine pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Lord Shiva, located in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, is held from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal.

The J&K government had cancelled the annual Amarnath pilgrimage due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation in 2020 and 2021 after a discussion with Amarnathji Shrine Board members. 

Sticky bombs can be only used in unattended civilian vehicles: CRPF official 

The precautions being taken in view of the inputs that came during the interrogation of arrested terrorists and their sympathisers and other evidence which suggests that while some “sticky bombs” have been recovered by security forces, many of them may have found their way into terror groups in Kashmir Valley.

The officer further said, “As the sticky bombs can be only used in unattended civilian vehicles, the message is being circulated not to leave any vehicle unattended.”

About three lakh pilgrims are likely to take part in the pilgrimage to the cave shrine located in the upper reaches of south Kashmir. It has been decided that vehicles of pilgrims as well as of security forces will be secluded during their movement, some other officials, privy to the development said.

“Instructions have also been issued to the security forces as well as those managing the pilgrimage not to leave vehicles unattended.” The `sticky bombs` emerged on the terror scene in February last year in Kashmir when these were recovered from the Samba of the Jammu region, indicating the initiation of a new phase of terrorism in the union territory.

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It was the first such recovery of “sticky bombs”, used largely in Afghanistan and Iraq. In India, it was used by suspected Iranian terrorists who targeted the vehicle of an Israeli diplomat in February 2012, resulting in injury to his wife.

Sticky bombs, which were also used by the British forces during World War II, can be put on any vehicle and detonated through remote control or an in-built timer, the officials said.

Amarnath pilgrims should take following precautionary measures  

Principal Secretary to Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, Nitishwar Kumar is earlier quoted by ANI as saying that devotees should go on a morning walk, do breathing exercises, must keep their warm clothes, and food items and keep themselves hydrated. 

Nitishwar Kumar told ANI, “The pilgrims who have done their registrations and are planning to do the same, must do the morning or evening walk for nearly 4 to 5 hours daily. This is a necessity to keep oneself fit as one comes at a very high altitude. The holy cave is at 12,700 ft while you do have to cross 14,000 or 15,000 ft in your way. Also, practice deep breathing exercises as there are oxygen shortages at such high altitudes.”

Kumar suggested that the pilgrims should carry warm clothes as a precautionary measure, adding “The temperature dips to nearly 5 degrees when it rains during the yatra. So do bring your warm clothes with you keeping this in mind. Do bring a walking stick, jacket and eatables. Keep hydrating yourself to avoid dehydration.”

(With Agency Inputs) 

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India 4 Kashmir is a Pan-India movement to reclaim our lost ground and rehabilitate common Indians in Kashmir with dignity and honour.