Zee Media Bureau/Ritesh K Srivastava
Jammu: The Amarnath Yatra has begun in Jammu and Kashmir with the first batch of 1160 pilgrims leaving for the holy site on Friday. The pilgrims going to visit Amarnath shrine this year will get to see a 20-feet shiv-lingam - a natural ice phenomenon.
However, due to the heavy accumulation of snow the trek through the traditional Pahalgam route, the pilgrims are likely to face difficulties in reaching the holy shrine.
Heavy snowfall has made the trek through the Baltal route risky and dangerous.
Meanwhile, the authorities have put a multi-pronged security system in place along the highway from Kathua to Jammu for visiting Amarnath pilgrims.
The security arrangements include Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) and Road Opening Parties (ROPs) besides check posts at various locations from Lakhanpur to Jammu, DIG, Jammu-Kathua range, Shakeel Ahmed Beig told reporters on the sidelines of a welcome function of Amarnath yatris at Lakhanpur, the gateway of Jammu and Kashmir.
The border posts have also been put on alert, he said, adding that police, security forces and Army are also put on job to defuse any odd situation. "Our aim is to ensure peaceful yatra for pilgrims and their safe return," Beig said.
The first batch of Amarnath yatris were received at Lakhanpur by district officials, including Kathua District Development Commissioner (DDC) Jitendra K Singh.
These yatris, who had come from different places of the country in buses, were later flagged off from Lakhanpur to Jammu.
The DDC and DIG also inaugurated the newly set up yatri assistance and registration centre at Lakhanpur.
Speaking on the occasion, the DDC Kathua said district administration has made arrangements with regard to the security of the yatries, provisions for boarding and lodging in case of any halt of yatra, set up helpline and arranged round-the-clock emergency medical facilities.
He said special team were constituted to monitor quality and hygiene at and around langar sites, besides a team to check the rates and quality of food items at important halt points.