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Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to be tracked through RFID tags

By The Hindu Bureau

The movement of each Amarnath Yatra pilgrim will be tracked with the help of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, a high-level meeting to review the logistics and security preparedness of the Yatra was informed on Friday.

The meeting chaired by Ajay Bhalla, Union Home Secretary, was attended by officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration, chiefs of Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) and the J&K police.

The J&K administration and police have been asked to brace for around 8 lakh pilgrims to the Yatra to the holy shrine in South Kashmir that commences on June 30 and concludes on August 11.

The RFID tags will be provided by the Shri Amarnath ji Shrine Board (SASB). Registration of all pilgrims are done by the shrine board.

“This will be the first time RFID tags are provided to pilgrims, earlier vehicles carrying them were tracked through the tags. It was then provided by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),” said a senior government official.

Around 35,000 security personnel drawn from various CAPFs are set to be deployed for the Yatra. The J&K administration is planning to install bio-toilets along the route to protect ecology in the sensitive zone.

The Yatra is being held after a gap of two years. In 2019, the pilgrimage was abruptly called off on August 2, days before the government moved a legislation in Parliament to read down the applicability of Article 370 of the Constitution in J&K which granted the former State a special status. The State was divided into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. In 2020 and 2021, it could not be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 the number of pilgrims who participated in the Yatra stood at 6.21 lakh, 3.54 lakh, 3.72 lakh, 3.53 lakh, 3.2 lakh, 2.6 and 2.8 lakh and 3.43 lakh respectively.

The J&K administration has also been asked to arrange alternative accommodation in other areas in case inclement weather leads to hold-up of pilgrims at base camps.

In 2017, eight persons were killed when a bus carrying pilgrims from Gujarat was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists near Batingoo in Anantnag district.

Following the incident, stringent measures were put in place, which included tagging the vehicles with RFIDs.

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