Amarnath yatra attack: Jitendra Singh says it's last phase of militancy as Centre takes stock of security situation in Kashmir

Assuring that the Centre is serious about the security situation following the killing of seven pilgrims who were part of the Amarnath Yatra on Monday, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Hansraj Ahir on Wednesday said that the BJP-led NDA government will look into security lapses that took place in Monday's terror strike in Anantnag.

Speaking to the press in Srinagar, Ahir as well as Union Minister of State for Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh, reiterated that the Amarnath Yatra will go on despite the terror attack.

"The Yatra will continue. Safety and security of the pilgrims will be ensured," they said.

Ahir and Singh were in the state to meet Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, Governor NN Vohra and other government officials and review the security situation in the Valley.

Seven yatris were killed in the attack. PTI

Seven yatris were killed in the attack. PTI

Lauding Mehbooba government's efforts of handling the situation well, Ahir said that the Centre was happy with the security provided for the annual yatra. However, as the attack had taken place at night, the minister assured that the Centre will beef up the security in those hours.

While condemning the killing of women (five out of seven dead were women) in the attack, Ahir noted that everybody in the state and the country had denounced the "unforgivable" killing.

Singh, who is an MP from Jammu's Udhampur, appreciated the civil society's efforts for handling the delicate situation well, noting that ordinary Kashmiris have shown remarkable resilience in last 25 years of militancy.

Adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was personally monitoring the situation, Singh claimed that militancy is going to outlive its life very soon. "We are in the last phase of militancy," Singh added.

On the probe, Singh said, "No one should jump to any conclusion on the attack. Let us wait for the definite inferences and inputs to come from the security agencies."

Meanwhile, Modi is holding his weekly meeting with the Cabinet Committee on Security, which comprises external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, defence minister Arun Jaitley and Union home minister Rajnath Singh. According to CNN-News18, the meeting is expected to revolve around the aftermath of the terror attack in Anantnag.

Seven Amarnath pilgrims were killed late on Monday, while twelve including three policemen were injured, after militants attacked a bus full of yatris and a police party in Anantnag along the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in south Kashmir.

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. Those from Maharashtra were Nirmala Ben Thakor, a resident of Palghar, and Usha Mohanla Sonkar of Dahanu.

Officials said that the bus could have escaped the attack had it not been stalled due to a tyre puncture. The bus with 60 pilgrims had started its journey from Srinagar around 5 pm and was expected to cover a distance of 100 kilometres to reach their destination, Srinagar, before 7 pm.

However, the driver discovered a puncture at Sangam, some 50 kilometres from the capital city, forcing him to stop on the road to change the tyre, they said. The flat tyre delayed the journey of the bus, with the licence plate GJ09Z 9976 by one hour, leaving it open to the security risk of travelling on the National Highway after 7 pm.

Rajnath on Tuesday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir and ordered enhanced security for Amarnath pilgrimage. The home minister took stock of the prevailing situation in Kashmir, particularly the two routes to the shrine, located in the Himalayas at an altitude of 12,756 feet during the hour-long meeting, official sources said.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, top officials of the home ministry, intelligence agencies and central paramilitary forces attended the meeting.

Issues like security of Amarnath pilgrims and how to prevent such possible attacks in the future were discussed threadbare. Sources said the home minister directed the officials to ensure enhanced security for the pilgrims. The pilgrimage started on 29 June and will conclude on 7 August.

Immediately after the meeting, the NSA briefed Modi about the deliberations as well as the steps taken for the security of the Amarnath pilgrims, sources said.


With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jul 12, 2017 12:53 PM

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