Since the attack on a bus carrying Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag district on Monday evening, the Jammu and Kashmir Police have intervened in six cases where buses carrying pilgrims have been stranded on roads after a malfunction. The bus that was attacked in Anantnag had been delayed because of a flat tyre and was plying after sunset, violating standard operating procedures. Seven pilgrims were killed in the incident.
Inspector General of J&K Police Muneer Khan said that a bus carrying pilgrims developed a snag and got stranded on the highway near Awantipora on Thursday evening. “We immediately intervened and took the yatris to the local police station, where they stayed overnight. We did not allow them to leave after dark. We arranged for their food and lodging because we did not want to take any chances,’’ he said.
“Another yatri bus developed a technical problem and was stranded at Awantipora on Friday. The pilgrims were with us until we got the bus repaired. Similar incidents took place in Kangan and Lower Munda today,’’ Khan said. “This is happening regularly, but this time we are being extremely careful.” IGP Khan said there was also an accident involving a yatri bus. “A yatri bus hit a local car in which two persons — a father-son duo — were killed. We put the yatris in other vehicles. It (death of two persons) was very tragic. Thankfully, there was no law and order situation there,” he said.
The buses carrying Amarnath pilgrims are generally old vehicles that are prone to malfunction, Khan said. “We have written to the administration several times requesting them to check the condition of the vehicles carrying yatris before allowing them to leave Jammu, but nothing has been done about that. It becomes very difficult for us because these buses regularly fail on the road.”