Security of Amarnath Yatra priority, says Centre

NEW DELHI: Shortly after announcing an end to the month-long Ramzan ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, the government on Sunday said that it wants to ensure that the upcoming Amarnath Yatra starting June 28 is conducted peacefully.
“Government’s next priority is to conduct the Amarnath Yatra successfully,” said Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh shortly after the government announced that the ceasefire in J&K will not be extended.
“I think the immediate priority for all of us is conducting the upcoming Amarnath Yatra in peaceful and successful manner and for that not only the government but the civil society will have to extend cooperation and we will have to ensure that nothing happens that will disrupt the Amarnath Yatra and discourage the pilgrims who come from far and wide,” Singh said.
The minister added that the decision to extend the suspension of anti-terror operations in Jammu and Kashmir will be taken by the home ministry.
“We have to cooperate with each other and at the same time exercise a very high degree of alertness because there are apprehensions that these foreign (Pakistan) sponsored elements will try to disrupt the Amarnath Yatra,” added Singh.
The security agencies had alerted the government about designs by certain terror groups to disrupt the forthcoming Amarnath Yatra and the need for conducting some operations in South Kashmir.
Last year, seven pilgrims were killed and several injured on July 10 in a terrorist attack while they were returning from Amarnath.
Earlier, the home ministry announced that there will be no extension of ceasefire in the Valley.
“Government will continue with its endeavour to create an environment free of terror and violence in Jammu and Kashmir,” a release by the home ministry read.
The killings of veteran journalist Shujaat Bukhari and rifle man Aurangzeb earlier this week prompted the government to reconsider its decision to extend the unilateral ceasefire.