After the militant attack on Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims in 2017, the question of raising the security for the pious trek has been raised again. After a long time, extremists have targeted Amarnath pilgrims. There were many questions that need to be answered regarding Amarnath Yatra and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits back in the Kashmir Valley.
According to a prominent Kashmiri Pandit living in Delhi, attack on Amarnath Yatra justifies the grave apprehension of Kashmiri Pandits to be resettled back in Kashmir valley. Various militant organizations and separatists leaders had assured that they will never target pilgrims, but those hollow assurances evaporated when innocent pilgrims were attacked. How can Amarnath Pilgrims or the Kashmiri Pandit community trust the militants with guns in hands who pledge to destroy in India?
Security at Amarnath Yatra
Due to ongoing tension in the Kashmir valley, strict security arrangements are made every year. According to the information provided by the Indian security forces, there are about 14,000+ soldiers from the army, paramilitary forces and state police to safeguard the 300 km route.
Apart from the two battalions of the Indian army, troopers from CRPF and BSF have also been deployed. According to sources, this number is twice the number of soldiers securing the Amarnath Yatra last year. Given the present tension in Kashmir, security forces had already anticipated any extremist attack, so this time more security forces were equipped with state-of-the-art techniques. Separate battalions were also deployed to cover-up.
Amarnath Yatra: A Quick Analysis
Amarnath Yatra is actually a pilgrimage to the holy Amarnath cave for Hindus. This cave is situated at an elevation of 3,888 meters above sea level. It can be reached only by foot or by a mule. This distance from Pahalgam is about 46 kilometres, which is to be completed on foot and a return journey takes around five days.
There is another route from the Baltal, which is just 16 kilometres away from the Amarnath cave. The trek from Baltal to the Amarnath cave is quite difficult and thus challenging to trek. This cave is covered with snow throughout the year, but for a short time during the summer, the Amarnath cave becomes accessible to the devotees. The journey begins in the month of Shravan and Amarnath Yatra is considered a must for devotees of Lord Shiva.
Importance of the Amarnath Yatra
The water droplet drips from the roof of this cave, accumulating on a freezing point, shapes a giant angle shaped that Hindus consider to be the form of Shivling. The Shivling is a representation of the Hindu deity, Lord Shiva. In Hinduism, the Shivling is seen as a representation of the energy and Lord Shiva himself. The Shivling is usually represented beside the yoni or source a symbol of the goddess or of Shakti (power).
From June to August, many people throng the Amarnath Cave and undertake an arduous journey to pray to Lord Shiva. A figure of Ganesh (son of Lord Shiva) and Parvati (wife of Lord Shiva) is also seen in the snow. Due to this, millions of Hindus across the length and breadth of the world register themselves for Amarnath Yatra every year.
Prior Attacks on Amarnath Yatra & Pilgrims
The militant attack was not the first attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims. In August 2000, Kashmiri militants attacked the base camp of Pahalgam where 32 people were killed. On 20th of July, 2001, militants attacked the devotees where 13 people were killed. Due to ever increasing attacks, over fifteen thousand Indian soldiers were deployed in 2002 to protect Amarnath pilgrims. Again in August 2002, Kashmiri Militants attacked Pahalgam, and scores were killed.
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