The bus that had carried the Amarnath pilgrims from Gujarat was owned by Sanjay Patel of Umiya Travels who had sold it to Jawahar Desai of Om Travels in Valsad.
The trip, according to Patel, was organised by Jawahar and his son Harsh, who is among the injured pilgrims.
Patel, the original owner of the vehicle based in Sabarkantha, told The Indian Express that he had sold the bus to Jawahar but since the payment was not settled, the bus ownership had not been changed on paper.
“The permit for the tour (from July 2-23) was procured by me since I still own the bus, but the tour was organised by Jawaharbhai and his son Harsh,” Patel said on Monday.
Who owned the bus has become a matter of scrutiny as there are reports that the vehicle was not part of the Amarnath yatra convoy that gets government security cover.
Patel said the bus, which can hold 56 passengers, had been cleared for travel by the RTO in Himmatnagar as the bus bore the registration of Sabarkantha.
He said he had not been able to reach Jawahar. Asked why the bus strayed away from the regular convoy, Patel said “I have
no other detail, you see the tour was organised by them (Om Travels).”
Sources have told the paper that the bus belonged to Umiya Travels of Sabarkantha but was sold to Om Travels of Valsad. The owner of Om Travels is Jawahar Desai, whose son Harsh is among the injured.
Seven pilgrims from Gujarat who were returning to Jammu after paying obeisance at the Amarnath shrine were believed to have been killed in the attack.
According to the association of tour operators from Gujarat, the bus was travelling to Amarnath independently.
A member of the tour bus operators’ association said: “The operator had not made the mandatory registration with the Amarnath Yatra board and so it was not part of the convoy of Amarnath yatris with security cover. It may have taken a different route as it was operating independently.”
Among the dead are residents of the Union Territory of Daman and Umergam in south Gujarat. No official from Daman was available to confirm any detail on the victims.
Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani said all BJP party events, including the Page Pramukh sammelan and the visit of Presidential candidate Ramnath Kovind and BJP chief Amit Shah, have been cancelled.
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