More para-military, Armed Police withdrawn from districts1 July 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: To further gear up security for Amarnath pilgrims in sensitive areas in view of continued protests in the Kashmir valley including two forward base camps at Pahalgam and Baltal, presence of para-military and armed police personnel has been thinned in many districts of Jammu region. Personal protection of a number of political leaders has also been reduced or is in the process of being minimized to use the police personnel for yatra duty. Official sources said para-military and police personnel from almost all districts of Jammu region have been withdrawn to the extent that it didnít effect security situation in militancy-infested areas. The forces withdrawn from the districts are being immediately deployed for security duties. All district chiefs of police have been asked by the authorities to immediately relieve para-military and armed police personnel to the extent that they could be spared for yatra duty. Police heads of the districts have started acting on the directions. Para-military and armed police personnel are being relieved from less sensitive areas for their deployment in different areas covered by the yatris. Police authorities in the districts have also been asked to reduce security of some political leaders for two months of Amarnath yatra period and keep the withdrawn personnel at the disposal of security agencies for deployment on yatra routes. Sources said security of Amarnath yatris is being beefed up to maximum possible extent on two national highways of Jammu-Pathankot and Jammu-Srinagar besides Jammu base camp of the yatra at Yatri Niwas, Bhagwati Nagar and forward base camps at Baltal and Nunwan in Pahalgam. According to sources, presence of para-military and police personnel is being strengthened beyond Jawahar tunnel in view of disturbed situation in the Valley and a Union Home Ministryís report that Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit was behind the disturbances. There had been a definite input that the LeT militants were plotting to target the yatra. It was in view of the input that security is being intensified all along the yatra route right from Lakhanpur, gateway of Jammu and Kashmir to Baltal and Nunwan besides the yatra tracks, where heights are being manned by Army and tracks by para-military and police personnel. Security on the two tracks is also being strengthened, sources said. They added that the authorities didnít want to take any chance in protection of the yatris at all places as it could have nation wide ramifications. According to sources, the additional withdrawal of para-military and Armed Police has been done in a way to ensure that it didnít impact anti-militancy operations in twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch besides erstwhile Doda district comprising Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban. Armed police personnel withdrawn from hinterland in Kathua, Samba and Udhampur districts would be utilized on the National Highways, the route taken by yatra vehicles. It may be mentioned here that the Union Government has already flown 3000 Border Security Force (BSF) personnel in the Kashmir valley for deployment along the yatra routes for providing adequate protection to the pilgrims in the wake of militant intercepts that the yatra could be targeted by the LeT activists.