Amarnath yatra: Terrorists were directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims, says intelligence report

Security personnel seen through a broken windshield of a vehicle which was damaged during the Monday's terror attack, in Boateng village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Tuesday.

Security personnel seen through a broken windshield of a vehicle which was damaged during the Monday's terror attack, in Boateng village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

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The intelligence report was circulated to Jammu & Kashmir police, military and paramilitary units two weeks ago.

Seven Amarnath pilgrims were killed and 12 injured when terrorists opened fire at a vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway on Monday night. A police official said the attack took place at Anantnag’s Batengo area around 8.30 p.m.

The attack took place when quick response teams of the Army had withdrawn from the highway around sunset, making the vehicle vulnerable.

Here are the latest updates:

“We were fired at from all sides but our driver took us to safety”

Sheikh, the driver of the bus belonging to Om Travels from south Gujarat’s Valsad town which was carrying 51 pilgrims, showed grit and determination, as he kept driving the vehicle in pitch darkness last night unfazed by the hail of bullets fired at the bus. The driver applied brakes to the bus only after reaching a military camp, some two km away from the site where they were ambushed, saving many pilgrims who were in the bus, said an injured male survivor, lying on a stretcher.

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Police warned of attacks weeks earlier, says report

An intelligence report that was circulated to the Jammu and Kashmir police, military and paramilitary units two weeks ago indicates security officials were expecting an attack. The memo, marked “top secret,” warned that a “sensational attack by terrorist outfits cannot be ruled out” in the region. The intelligence report, dated June 25, and verified as authentic by The Associated Press, said, “terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 police.”

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Aimed at deepening communal divide: Left

Denouncing the “dastardly and inhuman” attack, Left parties said on Tuesday that it was aimed at deepening the communal divide and demanded that the culprits be brought to book.

The people of Kashmir have always viewed the pilgrimage as part of its “syncretic heritage”, the parties said and pitched for ensuring peace and communal harmony in the State. “The CPI(M) politburo denounces the dastardly attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag district in Jammu and Kashmir,” the party said in a statement.

“It is important this provocation does not succeed. This can be accomplished by ensuring that peace and communal harmony prevail in Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the country,” it said. CPI national secretary D. Raja asked the government to ensure that the culprits of the “heinous and inhuman” attack do not go scot-free. “As the yatra is held every year, the government should strengthen intelligence and security measures,” he noted.

Eighteen Opposition parties, which met at Parliament Library on Tuesday, asked the Central government to introspect on its ''failure'' to prevent the “cowardly and ghastly” terror attack despite advance intelligence inputs.

President for collective action against terror

President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday strongly condemned attack. He asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure that those behind the attack were brought to justice.

"Such senseless acts of terrorism must be met with determination and collective action", he said.

Rajnath calls meeting to review situation

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday called a high level meeting to review the situation after the attack. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, top officials of the Home Ministry, intelligence agencies and central paramilitary forces attended the meeting.

Mr. Singh saluted the people of Jammu and Kashmir who had condemned the attack on Amarnath pilgrims and kept the spirit of Kashmiriyat alive.

The attack was a “cowardly act of terror” but it was heartening to see the whole nation stood united against terrorism, he said.

“I am pained at the loss of lives of Amarnath pilgrims. But I salute the people of Kashmir as all sections of society have condemned the attack. It shows the spirit of Kashmiriyat is very much alive,” he told reporters.

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Amarnath yatra attack

An Amarnath yatra pilgrim undergoes security check at the base camp in Langanbal village in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Tuesday.  

Kashmir civil society groups to protest killings

Human rights activist Khurram Parvez said in a Facebook post that a protest was being organised to show solidarity with those killed and demand a credible investigation into the deadly attack.

“Let us unambiguously and emphatically show solidarity towards those killed and demand a credible investigation against this and all other crimes perpetrated in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The sit-in will be organised at at Pratap Park in Lal Chowk area of the city.

Give bravery award for driver: Gujarat CM Rupani

The bodies of theose killed were brought to the Surat airport along with the injured and their family members in an IAF plane.

While recieving the bodies of those killed, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said he would recommend to the Centre to honour the bus driver with a bravery award.

According to information provided by Jammu and Kashmir police to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the driver drove through the bullets and didn't stop. The bus, carrying yatris from Amarnath, was attacked twice by terrorists within a distance of 75 metres, the police said.

The Gujarat government has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the kin of each of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh each to the injured.

Pilgrims leave Jammu for Valley despite attack

A batch of 3,289 Amarnath pilgrims left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley on Tuesday despite the previous day terror attack.

“A fresh batch of 3,289 yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 185 vehicles around 3 a.m., on Tuesday for the Valley”, officials said. So far, nearly 1.40 lakh pilgrims have reached the cave shrine located at 3,888 metres above sea level.

Amarnath yatra attack

A Border Security Force jawan keeps vigil near a base camp at Chandanwari in south Kashmir on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

 

U.S. deplores attack

The United States on Tuesday deplored the attack, saying it condemned all acts of terrorism. It also extended its “deepest” condolences to the families of the deceased and “all those affected“.

“We deplore the attack on #Amarnath pilgrims & condemn all acts of terrorism. Deepest condolences to the families & all those affected,” the US ambassador’s official Twitter post said.

Condemnation from international community

Condemnation of the attack poured in from the international community. Germany said it “resolutely stands” by India in the fight against terrorism and extremism.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, in a letter sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. said: “I am deeply shocked to learn about the dastardly terror attack on a bus carrying pilgrims to Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir that killed several pilgrims, including women, and injuring many others on Monday.”

Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a release, also strongly condemned the terror act.

Lashkar-e-Taiba denies involvement in attack

As Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muneer Khan blamed the Lashkar-e-Taiba for the attack, the militant outfit denied its involvement, reports Peerzada Ashiq from Srinagar.

“Islam does not allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts. Kashmiris have never targeted any pilgrim. India wants to sabotage the freedom struggle of Kashmiris. Therefore, it uses such attacks to fulfil  its nefarious agenda,” said a Lashkar spokesman. Through such “dastardly acts”, India wanted to succeed inits its anti-Kashmir policies, he added.

Crime against humanity: Vice President Ansari

In a message, Vice President Hamid Ansari condoled the families of the deceased. He said perpetrators of such “wanton” acts of violence should be punished for the “crime against humanity“. India remained united in the face of such attacks.

“I’m shocked to learn of the dastardly terrorist attack on Amarnath yatra in Jammu and Kashmir that has resulted in loss of lives and injuries to pilgrims. Such wanton acts of violence can have no justification. The perpetrators and those who support and shelter them should be punished for this crime against humanity,” he said.

Crush terrorists: DMK's Stalin

DMK working president M K Stalin on Tuesday condemned the attack on Amarnath pilgrims and urged the government to crush terrorists.

“Dastardly #AmarnathTerrorAttack on pilgrims despicable. Cowardice to attack innocent pilgrims. Crush the heartless terrorists with all might,” he said in a tweet.

Naveen Patnaik condemns attack

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik strongly condemned the attack.

 

Senior BJD leader and Lok Sabha member Baijayant Panda also condemned the attack. He termed the incident “despicable beyond words“.

Attack an unacceptable security lapse: Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the government on the attack, terming it a “grave and unacceptable security lapse” and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to accept the responsibility.

India, he said, would never be intimidated by terrorists.

 

Targeting the government, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep S Surjewala said the attack was a matter of serious security lapse on the part of the government and security forces.

Adityanath orders tight security

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath chaired a high-level meeting to take stock of the security situation and directed officials to spruce up intelligence network.

Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar and Director General of Police Sulkhan Singh have been asked to monitor the situation personally and oversee security arrangements.

Vigil has been stepped up for the ongoing Kanwar yatra as it involves hundreds of thousands of devotees in open areas.

Head of every Kashmiri hangs in shame over attack: Mehbooba

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has said the terror attack is a “blot on all Muslims and Kashmiris“.

While visiting the injured in a hospital in Anantnag on Monday, she said the head of every Kashmiri hangs in shame over the incident.

“Pilgrims come to Kashmir every year for the yatra despite all 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,” she told reporters.

J&K govt announced Rs 6 lakh compensation for kin of each Amarnath pilgrim killed in militant attack and Rs. 2 lakh for those injured.

 

India will never be bogged down by evil designs of hate: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday night strongly condemned the dastardly terror attack and asserted that India would never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate.

He said he spoke to Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured all possible assistance to them.

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Bandh in Jammu

Several political organisations, including the VHP, JKNPP, the NC and the Congress called for a bandh on Tuesday to condemn the terror attack.

“We have called for a Jammu bandh on Tuesday against the death of seven Amarnath pilgrims in a terror attack at Anantnag,” VHP spokesman Rajesh Kumar said on Monday.

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Six of the seven killed were from Gujarat's Valsad district. According to sources, there were 60 passengers in the bus and were all mostly from Surat, Valsad and Daman. The bus belonged to Om travels in Valsad in South Gujarat. The bus left Gujarat on 2nd July. Darshan was completed on Sunday.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 2:13:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/amarnath-yatra-attack-follow-up/article19256586.ece

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