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Pak drone shot down in Jammu’s Hiranagar sector

JAMMU: A Pakistani drone with a payload of magnetic bombs and UBGL grenades was shot down along the international border in the Hiranagar sector of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district early Sunday, police said.

The drone was coming from the border side and was shot down in the Talli Hariya Chak area.
“On the basis of drone activity observed in the area of Talli Hariya Chak under police station Rajbagh in district Kathua, every morning search party of police was being regularly sent in the general area. Today early morning, the search party observed a drone coming from the border side and they fired at it,” additional director general of police, Mukesh Singh said.

“The drone was shot down. It has a payload attachment with it,” he said, adding, “Seven magnetic bombs and seven UBGL (Under Barrel Grenade Launcher) grenades have been seized from it.”

It may be mentioned here that the Hariya Chak area has always remained a preferred route for infiltration by Pakistani terrorists.

Given the spike in terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and threats issued by various terror outfits, the forthcoming annual Amarnath Yatra beginning June 30 to the cave shrine at 13,000 feet in South Kashmir Himalayas is going to be a litmus test for the government.

One of the most revered Hindu pilgrimages in India, the Yatra is going to be held after a hiatus of two years. In 2020 and 2021, the pilgrimage could not be held due to the raging Covid pandemic in the country.

The back-to-back terror attacks in the form of selective killings of Kashmiri Pandits and non-locals in the valley have set the alarm bells ringing in the security establishment.

The increased drone activity and detection of a trans-border tunnel at Chak Faquira village in the Samba sector on May 4 indicate a “tough time” for the security forces.

The pilgrimage assumes significance because it is going to be the first after Article 370 was abrogated in 2019.

“While the Centre has decided to deploy around 15,000 additional security forces personnel in Kashmir in view of the killing of minorities, a total of 400 companies of the central armed police forces are going to be deployed for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra.

“Though CRPF largely shoulders the responsibility of regulating the pilgrimage, the Army commandoes will be placed in and around the cave shrine to secure it completely. Other central armed police forces like BSF, ITBP and SSB besides Jammu and Kashmir Police shall also be deployed in strength to safeguard the pilgrims.

To pre-empt the threat of drones by terrorists, the security agencies will deploy anti-drone teams along the routes and base camps in Jammu.

For the first time, every Amarnath Yatris would be given Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) cards to track their movement en route so as to ensure their well-being and would be insured for ₹5 lakh each.

CCTVs and drones will monitor the pilgrimage throughout the twin routes and all routes will be sanitised before the commencement of Yatra each day.

This year the government has announced a 43-day long Yatra from June 30 to August 11 and a record number of six lakh pilgrims are being expected.

However, the terror outfits TRF and now the lesser-known outfit, Jammu and Kashmir Freedom Fighters have already issued threats to the upcoming pilgrimage claiming that the “BJP and RSS regime was trying to pursue Hindutva agenda and wanted to change the demography of the disputed region”.

“This year security measures are going to be stringent for obvious reasons”, said a top police officer. On May 17, home minister Amit Shah reviewed preparations for the Yatra and said that “it was the priority of the Modi government that the pilgrims coming for the Yatra should have hassle-free Darshan and they should not face any problems”.

Since the 1990s, the Hindu pilgrimage, which draws devotees from abroad as well, has seen a quantum jump in the number of pilgrims and saw the highest number of 6.3 lakh pilgrims in 2011.

However, in 2000, the Yatra was first attacked leaving 25 people, including 17 pilgrims dead. The next year, in 2001, two hand grenades were hurled at pilgrims at Sheshnag that killing 12 pilgrims and injuring 13 others.

In 2017, the Amarnath Yatra saw its worst attack when terrorists attacked pilgrims on their bus in Anantnag and killed seven pilgrims, all from Gujarat.

There has been a spurt in attacks on non-Muslims and outsiders living in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir, in August 2019.

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