Marginal dip in the number of pilgrims visiting Amarnath

NEW DELHI: A marginal dip has been witnessed in the number of people undertaking the Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir, apparently due to the ongoing militant unrest in the state.
The pilgrimage will begin tomorrow and conclude on August 7.
As many as 2.15 lakh pilgrims have registered with the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), which conducts the annual pilgrimage to the high-altitude shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.
There has been a marginal dip in the registration of pilgrims and this could be due to the current unrest in the Kashmir Valley, a home ministry official said.
In 2016, a total of 2.20 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the shrine which is located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 12,756 feet and a distance of about 141 kms from Srinagar.
Kashmir Valley has witnessed a long spell of violence after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani on July 8, 2016.
Massive violence was again witnessed during the April 9 bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat.
Since April, several security personnel were killed by militants while a deputy superintendent of police was lynched by a mob in Srinagar last week.
Both central and state governments are making elaborate arrangements for the security of Amarnath pilgrims after intelligence reports suggested that Pakistan-based terrorist groups may try to attack the pilgrims.
As many as 21,000 paramilitary personnel in addition to state police forces will be guarding the pilgrimage route.
The number of paramilitary personnel deployed this year is 9,500 more than last year.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N N Vohra and Union home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi are expected to offer prayers tomorrow at the cave shrine when the pilgrimage will start. The first batch of 2,280 devotees have left Jammu today for the shrine.
Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, Minister of State for Tourism Priya Sethi flagged off the convoy to the cave shrine early today. (Agencies)