JAMMU, Apr 19: The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has decided to return nearly 100 paramilitary companies to Jammu and Kashmir which were withdrawn from the Union Territory for conduct of Assembly elections in five States of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur and sought number of additional companies which would be required for annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji.
Official sources told the Excelsior that in view of the militants striking at soft targets in the Kashmir valley, the MHA has ordered return of all 100 paramilitary companies which were withdrawn from the Union Territory in the wake of elections to five States.
“The companies have started reaching the Union Territory after a break,” sources said, adding that majority of companies are being sent to the Kashmir valley where recently the militants targeted civilians, security personnel on leave, cops, non-locals etc.
However, some of the companies are stationed in Jammu till the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled on April 24. These companies will also move to the Valley after Modi’s one-day tour.
Election process in five States had concluded on March 10.
Meanwhile, the Union Home Ministry has sought deployment details from Jammu and Kashmir including number of additional Central Armed Police Forces which would be required for deployment for security of annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji.
The yatra will last 43 days from June 30 to August 11 this year.
The Home Department and Police Headquarters are working out details of the paramilitary companies which would be sought from the Union Home Ministry for the yatra.
“The details will be worked out this week and sent to the Home Ministry,” sources said.
As per the reports, the Jammu and Kashmir Government could seek at least 400 additional companies of CAPF from the Centre for making fool-proof security arrangements for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage. The numbers are being worked out taking into account targeted killings by the militants and steps required to protect the soft targets as well as the pilgrims all along the National Highways including Pathankot-Jammu and Jammu-Srinagar besides twin tracks of Baltal and Nunwan, base camp in Jammu and all other vulnerable areas.
Sources said the Central and Jammu and Kashmir Governments are likely to take services of Army, BSF and ITBP also for annual pilgrimage though a final decision in this regard is yet to be taken.
While Army could man some places of Pathankot-Jammu and Srinagar-Jammu National Highways besides Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas, the BSF could also be deployed on the highways. The ITBP might be placed in some areas of twin tracks.
Sources said after review of security arrangements for Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrimage by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla and Director Intelligence Bureau Arvind Kumar in Kashmir last week, Union Home Minister Amit Shah is likely to review the arrangements next in New Delhi shortly.
A final date for review of Shri Amarnath Ji yatra arrangements by Amit Shah is likely to be fixed soon, they added.
The Government doesn’t want to take any chance with the yatra security as it is after two years that the pilgrimage is being revived.
The yatra couldn’t be conducted in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID pandemic while it was cut short by about 15 days in 2019 ahead of Central Government’s August 5 decisions to scrap special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcate erstwhile State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.