Terrorists kill 7 Amarnath pilgrims, injure 19 in Kashmir

In a dastardly act, terrorists attacked a bus carrying Amarnath Yatris in Anantnag district in Jammu and Kashmir last night, killing seven pilgrims, including six women, and injured many more. Five of those killed were from Gujarat and two from Maharashtra.

According to police, the terrorists first attacked a police bullet-proof bunker at Botengoo. Thereafter the terrorists fired on a police picket near Khannabal. When the police retaliated, the militants fled, firing indiscriminately in which the bus carrying the yatris got hit.

The victims were travelling from Srinagar to Jammu when they were attacked. They had performed the yatra two days ago and had then moved to Srinagar.

However, violating the security guidelines, the bus was neither registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board nor had it adhered to the security detail. Besides, the bus also deviated from the vehicular part of the Amarnath yatra route which is between Pahalgam and Jammu.

Also, despite the sensitive security situation prevailing in Kashmir, the bus was on its way to Jammu at night, which is not permissible as it exposes the vehicles to such attacks.

Meanwhile, dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in Jammu and Kashmir has evoked widespread condemnation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate. “Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone,” Modi tweeted. He spoke to Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured all possible assistance required.

The Home Minister Rajnath Singh, in his telephonic call to Vohra and Mehbooba, sought details of the attack. He told them to ensure that the injured people are given adequate medical treatment. He also directed officials to ensure foolproof security in future.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley termed the attack as the “most reprehensible act” and said “This incident should add to our determination to eliminate terrorism.” The attack was condemned by other leaders as well.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said the head of every Kashmiri hangs in shame over incident. Visiting the injured in a hospital in Anantnag, she also said that the attack is a “blot on all Muslims and Kashmiris”.

Security forces continue to undertake intense search operation to nab the terrorists. Security has also been beefed up at Jammu-Srinagar National highway in Udhampur. Internet services in Kashmir have been blocked while high alert has been sounded in some areas of the state. Security has also been beefed up in other states of the country following the worst attack on the annual pilgrimage since the year 2001.

The latest attacks on Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district brings to mind similar attacks in the past on yatris.

The Amarnath yatra was targeted in 2001 when terrorists had struck in the Sheshnag area close to the holy cave of Amarnath, killing 13 people.

Prior to that, terrorists had attack Amarnath pilgrims on August 1, 2000 in Pahalgam area, killing 30 people, who also included porters.