Terrorists attacked a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag on Monday night , killing seven pilgrims and injuring 15 others, four of them seriously. Around 56 pilgrims from Gujarat were returning from Baltal after paying obeisance at the cave shrine when the bus was attacked.
Of the seven killed, five of the pilgrims belonged to Gujarat and two were from Maharashtra. The four critically injured pilgrims are likely to be shifted to Delhi for specialised treatment in a Border Security Force (BSF) plane.
On Tuesday, a fresh batch of 3,289 Amarnath pilgrims left in a convoy of 105 vehicles from the Yatri Niwas base in Jammu for the cave shrine at 3:15am amid tight security in the region.
A Central Reserve Police Force officer said that following the attack, the CRPF in tandem with the Indian Army has tightened the security in the region.
“Though the security arrangements are adequate, we revisit the security grid whenever such incidents happen. An alert has already been issued and security has been heightened at the Yatri Niwas Base camp in Jammu and all along the 294-km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway,” the officer said.
“The convoy of the yatris is escorted by armed CRPF commandos and the 294 km long highway from Jammu to Srinagar is largely guarded by the CRPF and in some stretches by the army,” he said, adding that the pilgrims were allowed to leave from Jammu only after a nod by the road opening parties of CRPF and army that guard the highway.
Various political, social, religious organisations such as the Panthers Party, National Conference, Congress, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Dal, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industry and J-K High Court Bar Association have called for the complete shutdown across the region.
Schools and other educational institutions, which opened this morning, had to call off their classes.
PREVIOUS ATTACKS ON AMARNATH PILGRIMS:
- August 1, 2000: Over 30 people were killed by militants at Pahalgam base camp
- July 20, 2001: 13 people were killed and 15 wounded in an attack by terrorists at Sheshnag, halfway along the route to the cave-shrine. Six pilgrims and five porters were among the dead
- August 6, 2002: Nine pilgrims were gunned down and 30 others wounded in their sleep at Nunwan camp near Pahalgam
- Other incidents:
- 2012: At least 16 pilgrims were killed and 16 others injured when a truck carrying them plunged into a gorge near Zamoorha Morh in Mansar belt of Samba district
- 1996: At least 242 pilgrims died after they were caught in a snow blizzard.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night strongly condemned the dastardly terror attack on the pilgrims in Kashmir. He said that India will “never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate”. The PM said he spoke to J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured all possible assistance.
J&K’s chief minister said the terror attack on the pilgrims is a “blot on all Muslims and Kashmiris”. “Pilgrims come to Kashmir every year for the yatra despite all the difficulties. And seven people died today. I have no words to condemn it. I hope the security forces and the Jammu and Kashmir police arrest the perpetrators forthwith and take stern action against them,” the chief minister said.
Opposition leaders also condemned the attack. “This is a grave & unacceptable security lapse. The PM needs to accept responsibility and never allow it to happen again,” Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said. “Every right-thinking Kashmiri must today condemn the killing of the Amarnath yatris… These terrorists are the enemies of Kashmir & Kashmiriyat,” said former J&K chef minister Omar Abdullah.
“Strongly condemn attack on Amarnath Yatris in J&K; grieve the loss of innocent lives,” said President Pranab Mukherjee.