A week before Amarnath Yatra is scheduled to begin, intelligence agencies have raised an alert for Sonmarg Baltal route which takes devotees to Baltal base camp.
The Multi Agency Centre (MAC), which collates inputs from various wings of security agencies, has highlighted the probability of a fidayeen attack on the Northern Baltal Route by terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad.
“Baltal is not a traditional route. After the alert was raised, we are making robust arrangements along the route leading to the traditional route from Pahalgam,” an officer on the ground told NDTV.
According to him, most devotees prefer this route as it’s a shorter route and one can complete the Amarnath Yatra in a day itself. The distance from Baltal to the Amarnath cave is 14 km one-way and the trek is fairly steep.
“Also buses reach the base camp directly,” the official says adding that special focus is being given to roads leading to the Yatra route from Bandipora.
Security agencies on the ground have also been sensitised about the threat of “sticky bombs.” These are very small in size and usually magnetic. These bombs can be attached to vehicles and detonated using a timer and a remotely-held device, hence the name “sticky bombs”.
The security forces in Jammu and Kashmir have reworked their standard operating procedures (SOPs) ahead of the Yatra.
“Some of the sticky bombs we recovered had double tape on them and no magnet on them which means that they are being improvised,” explains a senior official.
According to him, the bombs recovered in Akhnoor in May were in tiffins. “Some were detected with traces of RDX too,” he adds.
Sticky bombs first emerged in Kashmir in February 2021 when they were recovered from Samba in the Jammu region. Based on recent arrests and interrogations, security agencies now believe that terror groups in Kashmir might have these bombs.
The 43-day-long pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrine is scheduled to start on June 30 from the twin routes – the traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam and the 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal – after a gap of two years due Covid pandemic.
About three lakh pilgrims are likely to take part in the pilgrimage, which is expected to end on August 11.
Violence in the valley has substantially risen in the last one month. Sixteen incidents of firing between security forces and terrorists have been reported in June alone, according to home ministry data. Three incidents of grenade lobbing have also been reported this month. As many as 28 terrorists have been killed in various operations in the last one month.