Jammu, Jun 29 (PTI) To assist the Amarnath pilgrims, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has established 'Madadgar' booths across Jammu and Kashmir, a spokesperson of the paramilitary force said on Wednesday.

The 43-day annual pilgrimage is scheduled to commence Thursday from the twin base camps - the traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir's Anantnag and a 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district - after a gap of two years following the outbreak of COVID-19.

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The CRPF spokesperson said help desks have been set up at various places along the route, and at transit and base camps.

The force has also established a medical camp along the pilgrimage route to provide free treatment, he said.

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The first batch of 4,890 pilgrims, who left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu under tight security arrangements in the early hours of Wednesday, have reached their respective base camps in the Valley to start their onward journey.

The spokesperson said all efforts have been made to ensure their safety and security and their convoys in view of a heightened threat perception and statements by various terror groups to disturb the pilgrimage.

"The force has left no stone unturned to take up the challenge...the surveillance of every inch is being made by the vigilant jawans, who are also using drone 'Netra' to keep the pilgrims safe," he said.

The spokesperson said the pilgrims leaving the base camp on the first day were excited and expressed full faith in the CRPF's capability.

"Such excitement among the pilgrims and their display of faith in the force served as the motivation for the security personnel who have pledged to provide security," he said.

Earlier, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha flagged off the yatra and the CRPF band cheered the pilgrims with some melodious music, he added.

"The CRPF is also securing the NH-44 (Jammu-Srinagar National Highway) and escorting the yatri convoy from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal axis… while the 38th battalion is guarding Yatri Niwas Bhagwati Nagar and the 160 battalion is providing escort from Jammu to Navayug tunnel (Banihal) and back," he said.

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