Seven Hindu pilgrims killed in militant attack in Indian Kashmir

Aaron Brown
July 12, 2017

National Conference (NC) leader and former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah, while condemning the terror strike, warned of a nationwide Hindu backlash.

The pilgrims were on their way back from the Amarnath shrine deep in the Himalayas when their bus got caught up in the crossfire near the town of Anantnag, police said. On July 10, as the convoy started from the Baltal base camp towards Jammu, about 350 km away, one of the buses with a Gujarat registration was left behind as it had a puncture.

The victims had been on a pilgrimage through the Himalayan valley, a long-disputed region on the border between India and Pakistan, returning after paying their respects at a Hindu shrine in Amarnath cave.

The last attack on the Amarnath Yatra took place in 2002. In July 2001, 13 pilgrims were killed after militants hurled two grenades at a camp and later opened fire near the Amarnath shrine.

Stating that this was the second terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims after the BJP came to power, Owaisi demanded that the government should explain why it failed to ensure their safety despite intelligence warning which was carried by the media on June 26. "The Gujarat government has announced a relief of Rs 2 lakh for the victims of the attack", he said.

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"The annual Amarnath Yatra has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so", they said in a joint statement.

The police said the bus driver had violated rules for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on the highway after 7 pm as the security cover is withdrawn after that. "I am proud of him", said Javed. "The central government needs to answer this", he said.

The Army chief reviewed the security situation, condemned the dastardly terror act and exhorted troops to keep up the pressure on terrorists. I wasn't injured but people around me were. They denied reports that the militants had originally attacked a police checkpost, and the bus happened to be there. In 2000, 25 people - including 17 pilgrims - were killed in a terror attack in Pahalgam.

The attack coincided with the first anniversary of the death of Burhan Wani, a 21-year-old commander of the militant separatist group Hizbul Mujaheedin. Passengers said the bus suffered a tyre puncture and they spent almost one-and-a-half hours on the side of the road, and were still in Kashmir around 8.20pm when the attack occurred.

Separatist groups in Kashmir have condemned the attack, saying it "goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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