New Delhi: Security forces and the Union home ministry are putting in place watertight security measures to avert any terror threat, with less than a week to go for the Amarnath Yatra to be flagged off.
The Amarnath pilgrimage remains “especially vulnerable to a cross-border terror attack this year" after the Pulwama suicide strike in February, which claimed the lives of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, a senior intelligence official said.
Security forces have also beefed up security along the arterial Jammu-Srinagar Highway.
Several attempts have been made to attack security force convoys in Kashmir following the Pulwama attack. However, forces are now regulating traffic along the link road that connects the highway to Jammu, with civilian traffic set to be restricted further during convoy movements.
The timing of the Yatra also coincides with the Hurriyat leadership agreeing to hold a dialogue with the centre. Any headway in the dialogue could break the impasse in Kashmir.
Some pockets in Kashmir, especially south Kashmir, have become vulnerable to infiltration of terrorists from across the border, with the Union home ministry diverting security forces for the Yatra, central government officials said.
The Hurriyat Conference is ready to hold talks with the centre, Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik had said on Saturday.
The Hurriyat Conference was instrumental in calling for a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections in the state and has evaded dialogue with the centre. However, the move is a major shot in the arm for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had made Kashmir a major poll plank for the general elections.
Political leaders in the state supported the Hurriyat’s move. “The Governor says Hurriyat has agreed to talks. Then talks should be held with them," said National Conference member of Parliament Farooq Abdullah.
The previous Modi government had appointed a special interlocutor, Dineshwar Sharma, to hold talks with all stakeholders, but the Hurriyat had refused to take part in any dialogue.
Malik pointed out an instance in 2016 when Hurriyat leaders shut the doors on consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan during the peak of protests following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and said the situation has since improved.
“Today, they are ready for talks and want to hold dialogue. There is a change in everyone," Malik said.
The governor, who has been at the helm of affairs in the state since the collapse of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP)-BJP government last year, said recruitment of militants had almost stopped as had incidents of stone-throwing.
The Jammu and Kashmir Railway Police on Monday also conducted a mock drill to check preparations ahead of the Amarnath pilgrimage. The first batch of pilgrims will set out on 30 June from Jammu and on 1 July from Srinagar.