State Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, junior minister Priya Sethi and Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore flagged off the first batch of pilgrims from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in winter capital Jammu at 5 a.m. on Friday.
There are 900 males, 225 females and 13 children in the first batch which left in 13 buses, 24 mini-buses and other modes of public and private conveyance in a convoy guarded by the security forces.
Providing security to this year’s Amarnath Yatra is a major security and intelligence challenge for state and central agencies because of the spurt in the violence by separatist militants.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh would arrive in Jammu on Friday on a two-day visit to review the security situation in the state, especially the security arrangements for this year’s Yatra.
Singh would also visit the Amarnath Yatra cave shrine on Saturday.
Sources said Singh would participate in the traditional Puja at the Cave Shrine which heralds the beginning of the Yatra.
Beginning from Saturday, this year’s 48-day Yatra would end on August 18 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.