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Amid tight security, the seventeenth batch comprising 3,603 pilgrims today left Jammu for the 3,888-metre-high Amarnath cave shrine of Lord Shiva in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said. With this, a total of 53,631 pilgrims have left for Amarnath from Jammu since the yatra began on June 28, this year, they said. As many as 1,95,491 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the 3,880-metre high holy cave shrine till last evening, the officials said. The yatra from Jammu was suspended in view of the law and order situation in the Kashmir valley on July 8 but resumed on July 9. The government has mobilised around 35,000 to 40,000 personnel including the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF to provide a security blanket to the pilgrims. In addition to the existing strength of the CRPF in the state, the Centre has provided over 250 companies (25,000 personnel) of paramilitary forces to the state government. The BSF has deployed over 2,000 troops for the yatra, the Army has provided 5 battalions (about 5,000 personnel) while an additional 5,400 personnel of the police have also been mobilised. On July 10, a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims was attacked by militants.
Eight persons lost their lives in the attack. This year, the yatra will be eight days shorter than the last year when it took 48 days. It will conclude on 'Shravan Purnima' (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7. Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, the Amarnath shrine is 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.
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