Baltal: Authorities have started to issue a 'barcode-enabled' authority slip to pilgrims to keep a track of the actual number of people travelling to, and from the Amarnath cave shrine.

The first batch of pilgrims left for cave shrine from Baltal base camp, near Sonmarg here on Monday morning, kicking off the annual pilgrimage to the 46-day-long yatra.

Krishan Lal, Director, Baltal Base Camp said, "This is the first time Sri Amarnath Shrine Board has taken this kind of initiative for the security of the pilgrims. Now there are two systems to manage the total count of the pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra, first is the traditional way of gathering information through banks in which there is a numerical number and barcode which is being scanned and a database is maintained. "

"Second is the online registration facility in which around 50 pilgrims can register. In the online forms, there is a different QR code for each person which is then added to our database. A team of Central Reserved Police Force (CRPF) has been deployed for this task. It is a great initiative as now it will be able to know exactly how many people have returned or are still in the track", he added.

Satpal Yatri, a pilgrim said, "We give the forms after filling our details to the CRPF personnel while crossing the gates. After being thoroughly checked, we are cleared to move on the journey. I am very happy with this security and this will encourage more people to come on the journey." A total of 1617 pilgrims (1174 men, 379 women, 15 children, 49 saints) began their journey to Amarnath cave shrine from Baltal axis and 2800 pilgrims (2321 men, 463 women, 16 children) started from Pahalgam axis, this morning.

Amid tight security, the Amarnath yatra was flagged off by SSP Ganderbal Khalil Poswal and Gadetbal Additional Deputy Commissioner Shafqat here.

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