Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said he was pained beyond words by the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, and assured the Jammu and Kashmir government of all possible help in the matter.
“Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone,” tweeted the PM.
He said he had spoken to Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor N N Vohra on the issue, and assured them of all possible assistance.
“My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones in the attack in J&K. My prayers with the injured. India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks & the evil designs of hate,” tweeted Modi.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s office tweeted that his ministry was monitoring the situation. “HM has asked the authorities to ensure immediate and proper treatment of the injured yatris. The MHA is closely monitoring the situation,” the tweet said. In another tweet, the Home Minister’s office said, “HM spoke to Governor & CM of Jammu & Kashmir regarding the attack on Amarnath Yatris. They have apprised him of the ground situation.”
Security has been beefed up at the Jammu base camp following the terror attack. Troops of 90 Battalion & 40 Battalion of the CRPF have also been rushed to the site.
NSA Ajit Doval called a meeting at South Block where top brass of the security establishment, including officials from Home, Defence and Intelligence agencies and paramilitary were present. Officials said there was no immediate plan to call off the yatra.
The bus that was attacked had come from Sonmarg. The pilgrims were on their way back after visiting the Amarnath shrine. Police claimed the bus driver had violated rules, which state that no pilgrim vehicle should be on a highway after 7 pm.
CM Mufti in a statement expressed deep shock and anguish over the killings. She said the yatris were esteemed guests of Kashmir and perpetrators of the crime had dealt a death blow to the ethos and culture of the state.
“It is a gruesome attack not only on unsuspecting guests but a brazen attack on Kashmir and Kashmiriyat and all of us shall have to rise against this scourge of violence sooner the better,” she said.
She directed the state administration to provide all possible security to the pilgrims and quality treatment to those injured, the statement read.
Leaders from across parties condemned the incident. “Cowards responsible for this barbaric act will not be spared,” BJP president Amit Shah tweeted. “I have no words to express my deep pain on the killing of innocent pilgrims traveling to the holy shrine of Amarnath. It is a henious act.”
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi called on the NDA government for decisive action against terrorists and a probe into the security lapse. “The attack on devotees of Lord Shiva is a crime against humanity. The entire nation is shocked over the attack,” she said.
Former CM Omar Abdullah said on Twitter, “The one thing we had all feared this year during the yatra. In spite of recent successes against militants & unprecedented force presence.”
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury lashed out at the central government and posted series of tweets saying, “The situation in Kashmir has deteriorated under the BJP govt’s watch. Their mishandling of the situation is a matter of grave concern.” He added, “Last killing of pilgrims in terror attack was in 2000, under BJP-led NDA. Now, again in 2017. How did the situation in Kashmir come to this?”
In a statement, the joint separatist leadership of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik expressed deep grief over the killing of Amarnath pilgrims. “The annual Amarnath yatra has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so. The leadership said that our heart goes out to the families of the bereaved and we express our heartfelt condolences to them.”
National Panthers Party chairman Harshdev Singh said the attack happened despite heavy deployment of troops. “It is an utter failure of government and the administration as well.’’