7 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims killed in terror attack: Yatris weren't the target, police bunkers were, media told

Terrorists killed seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, and injured 19 others as they struck at a bus in Kashmir's Anantnag district, in the worst attack on the annual pilgrimage since the year 2001. Five of those killed were from Gujarat and two from Maharashtra. The deceased from Gujarat were identified as Hasuben Ratila Patal, Surakha Ben and Lakshimiben S Patal from Valsad, Ratan Zeena Bhai Patal of Daman and Prajapati Champaben of Navsari, a Jammu and Kashmir police spokesperson said.

Those from Maharashtra were Nirmala Ben Thakor, a resident of Palghar, and Usha Mohanla Sonkar of Danu. Police said 19 pilgrims were injured in the attack and their condition is stable. Nirmal Singh, the deputy chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir said that injured will be airlifted to Delhi on Tuesday.

"The dead and the injured pilgrims will be shifted to Srinagar tonight. They will then be airlifted to New Delhi in a special BSF aircraft at 7:30 am on Tuesday," he said.

Seven Amarnath Yatra pilgrims were killed in a terrorist attack on Monday and 19 others were injured. PTI

Seven Amarnath Yatra pilgrims were killed in a terrorist attack on Monday and 19 others were injured. PTI

The bus bearing the registration number GJ09Z 9976 was attacked around 8.20 pm near Khanabal when it was on its way from Srinagar to Jammu, police said.

A security official said the victims had performed the yatra two days ago and had subsequently moved to Srinagar. They were leaving for Jammu on Monday night, when they became the target of the terrorist attack.

The police said the bus was not a part of the yatra convoy which was given elaborate security. The police added that the terrorist first attacked the bullet-proof bunker of the police at Botengoo, and the police retaliated. There were no injuries in this attack. Thereafter, the terrorists fired on a police picket near Khannabal, the police added.

As police kept up retaliatory firing, militants fired indiscriminately at the bus carrying the pilgrims, and fled. Seven of the pilgrims were killed and 32 were injured, the police said. The police and top government sources 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for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on the highway after 7 pm as the security cover is withdrawn after that.

So far, no terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attack, however, media reports said that security forces suspect the operation was carried out jointly by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. There were reportedly three assailants, and one of them, Ismail, arrived on a motorbike and fired indiscriminately in the area where the bus, with the pilgrims onboard got stranded.

The authorities, as a precautionary measure, also suspended the internet and broadband services in the Jammu region to curtail the spread of rumours. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was personally monitoring the situation, strongly condemned the dastardly attack and asserted that India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate.

The prime minister also said that he spoke to Governor NN Vohra and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured all possible assistance required. Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Vohra and Mehbooba.

The Home Minister, in his 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.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the attack.

Several political organisations, including the Vishva Hindu Parishad, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, National Congress, and Congress called for a bandh in the city on Tuesday, in the wake of a terror attack. "We have called for Jammu bandh tomorrow (Tuesday) against the death of seven Amarnath pilgrims in a terror attack at Anantnag," VHP spokesman Rajesh Kumar said.

A similar call was made by the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP), the National Conference (NC) and the Congress. Congress spokesman Ravinder Sharma condemned the attack and said the party supported the bandh.

Meanwhile, divisional commissioner Mandeep Bhandari said the Amarnath yatra will continue from Jammu on Tuesday. "The yatra will not be disrupted and it will continue as per the plans on Wednesday," he told the press.

The last time the Amarnath yatra was targeted was 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 1 August, 2000 in Pahalgam area, killing 30 people, who also included porters.

Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2017 07:39:27 IST

Also See