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After Army Chief, Defence Minister reviews Kashmir security

Srinagar, Jun 25: Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, on Monday arrived in Kashmir to review the security situation.

On her second visit to the state within a week, the minister was accompanied by the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Bipin Rawat, who has been here since Saturday.

The two premier defence authorities were received by Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, GoC of the Northern Command, and Lt Gen AK Bhatt, Chinar Corps Commander, at Badami Bagh Cantonment here.

Briefing Sitharaman on the latest in the security scenario, Lt Gen Bhatt shared with her the details of anti-infiltration and anti-militancy operations undertaken in the recent past.

She was also briefed about the security and administrative arrangements made for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra.

Before landing in Srinagar, the Defence Minister did an aerial recce of the Amarnath-yatra route along the Pahalgam axis and inspected the arrangements at Baltal.

Sitharaman, as per the government’s official spokesperson, advised the forces “to ensure swift and targeted counter responses to the militancy on the ground”.

Later in the evening, Sitharaman and Governor NN Vohra, held a meeting at Raj Bhavan here.

Apart from the Lt Ranbir Singh and Lt AK Bhatt, the meeting was attended by B B Vyas and K Vijay Kumar, Advisors to Governor; BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary; SP Vaid, DGP; Jiwesh Nandan, Additional Secretary to Defence Minister and Umang Narula, Principal Secretary to Governor.

The day also saw J&K’s Chief Secretary, Subrahmanyam, separately issuing a series of instructions to the entire administration to ensure “hassle-free” and “smooth” conduct of the yatra.

On June 14, a meeting was held at Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s residence in New Delhi to discuss the security arrangements during the yatra.

Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid also attended the meeting.

The recurrent and heightened safety reviews by top authorities are apparently in the backdrop of last year’s attack in which eight pilgrims were killed, while 18 others injured in what was dubbed by the government forces as a militant attack.

As many as 213 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed to secure the nearly 400 km-long Yatra route from winter capital Jammu to the two base camps of Baltal and south Kashmir’s Pahalgam.