Srinagar: The 43-day-long Machail Mata Yatra in Kishtwar district of Jammu & Kashmir was suspended on Saturday owing to security reasons. The Amarnath Yatra has also been curtailed and official sources told The Sunday Guardian, that there was enough intelligence input to call off both the yatras as a preventive measure.
Additionally, paramilitary troops have been deployed into the Chenab valley region, which was declared to be “terrorist-free” years ago. Unwanted terrorist activities have spiked in the neighbouring Kishtwar and Doda districts.
Each year tens of thousands of devotees visit the holy shrine of Machail Mata, but it is expected that this year’s yatra will be cancelled. The pilgrims were asked not to proceed towards the shrine and return to the bases as soon as possible. The murder of BJP’s state secretary Anil Parihar and his brother Ajeet Parihar in November last year, followed by the killing of senior RSS leader Chander Kant Sharma and his security guard in April this year have escalated tension in the valley.
Meanwhile, reports from Chenab Valley and Pir Panjal regions of Jammu province indicate the onset of panic after paramilitary troops were moved in on Friday and Saturday. Reports say that the Border Security Force (BSF) has been deployed on Bhaderwah and Kishtiwar areas for the first time since 1990, and have been accommodated in official buildings.
Average airfares to and from Srinagar have increased by 20-25% after the administration issued an advisory asking pilgrims and tourists to leave the valley “as soon as possible”.