Srinagar: The first batch of pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra was flagged off Baltal base camp on Monday morning. A total of 1,617 pilgrims (1,174 men, 379 women, 15 children and 49 saints) began their journey to Amarnath cave shrine from Baltal axis.

Another 2,800 pilgrims (2,321 men, 463 women and 16 children) started from Pahalgam axis, reported ANI.

For the 45-day journey to the cave shrine, security measures are tighter than ever before with close to 60,000 personnel deployed on the two routes.

Pilgrims set off for the shrine amid chants of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’. While the Central Reserve Police Force and J&K Police have been given most of the responsibility for providing security cover, the Indian Army and Border Security Force are also a part of the security.

Drones and CCTV cameras are being used to monitor proceedings. Vehicles fitted with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are in place so that their locations can be known at all times.

The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has provided every pilgrim with barcodes which will be connected with towers set up at multiple locations along the yatra route.”The yatra is a big event for us. A detailed security plan has been made for it,” CRPF IG Ravideep Sahai had told Zee News a day ago.

Apart from the security, pilgrims will also be regularly updated about the weather.

A mobile application was launched recently which promises to ensure timely updates. Due to monsoon rains, emergency teams have been deployed at various points along the two routes and these can quickly reach any particular point where they may be needed in case of any unfortunate developments.

Locals have once again been urged to extend maximum cooperation and several points along the two routes have been designated as places where pilgrims would be able to take rest and eat before making their onward journey.