At least seven Amarnath pilgrims, five of them women, were killed and many others injured when a bus of yatris was caught in a cross fire between militants and a police party in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantang district on Monday evening, police said. The bus was carrying pilgrims back from Baltal after performing the yatra.
Security arrangement across the Valley has been tightened after the attack. The internet service was also suspended in view of the tension following the attack.
An official said the militants attacked an armoured car of the police at 8:20 pm. When the police fired back, the militants fled, firing indiscriminately, the official added. “In the firing by militants, seven people, five of them women, were killed, and another seven injured,” the official said.
A CRPF statement said the bus was not part of the official yatra and not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. The police claimed the bus driver had violated rules for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on a highway after 7 pm.
According to reports, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has called up J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Governor N N Vohra over terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims. Strongly condemning the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that he was “pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K.
Strongly reacting to the incident, senior minister in the Mehbooba Mufti-led government Nayeem Akhtar termed it a “dark patch in the history of Kashmir”. National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was also quick to react and said: “The attack cannot be condemned strongly enough.” He added that such an attack was expected in spite of recent successes against militants by security forces. “The one thing we had all feared this year during the yatra. In spite of recent successes against militants and unprecedented force presence,” he tweeted.
Earlier on Saturday, the Amarnath yatra was suspended from Jammu due to law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley which was under curfew due to the death anniversary of militant commander Burhan Wani.