Rajnath Singh to visit Amarnath temple amid terror threat; to take stock of situation at LoC

New Delhi: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on a two-day visit to Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, will on Saturday (July 18) visit Amarnath temple. His visit to the Amarnath temple comes at a time when the Indian Army has announced that terrorists were trying to target the pilgrimage at National Highway 44.

Brigadier VS Thakur, Commander, 2 Sector said, “There are inputs that terrorists would try their best to target the yatra. NH-44 continues to be sensitive because that is the route that the yatris would take to go up to the north routes.” He said that the Army remain committed to ensuring that Amarnath Yatra will be conducted peacefully without any hindrance.

On July 17, on the first day of his visit, Rajnath visited Stakna in Ladakh where he held interactions with field commanders and took stock of the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). He witnessed a military drill involving a fleet of attack helicopters, tanks, infantry combat vehicles and ground commandos at a high-altitude forward base here.

In the drill, the Army and Air Force displayed combat readiness in the region where India and China are engaged in a bitter border standoff. A large number of ground commandos, tanks, BMP infantry combat vehicles, Apache, Rudra and Mi-17 V5 helicopters, took part in the drill at Stakna.

Troops also carried out para dropping and slithering exercises in the presence of Singh, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and Army Chief General MM Naravane.

On Friday evening, Singh had arrived in Srinagar for the second-leg of his journey. He was briefed in detail about the situation on the LoC, in the hinterland and successful counter-terrorist operations by 15 Corps Commander Lt. Gen. B.S. Raju.

He said that the country was proud of the valour and patriotic spirit of the soldiers,” a senior defence ministry official said. “He urged all to continue to work hard to ensure security both on the Line of Control and in the hinterland. He also impressed upon the commanders to maintain strict vigil along the Line of Control and remain prepared to give a befitting reply to any misadventure by the adversary,” he said.

Later on Friday evening, the Defence Minister chaired a high-level security review meeting, which was attended by Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir GC Murmu, Gen Rawat, Gen Naravane, Corps Commander of the Chinar Corps Lt Gen BS Raju, Director General of J and K Police Dilbagh Singh and other senior officials from the security forces, civil administration and intelligence agencies, the Ministry statement added.

There have been increasing incidents of unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC in the past few months.