July 11, 2017 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Jammu: The media reports say that at least seven Amarnath Yatris were killed while 19 others, including three policemen, were injured after gunmen attacked a Yatri bus and a police party in Anantnag along the Jammu-Srinagar Highway in south Kashmir on Monday. One of those injured is said to be in a critical state.
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.
The Attack took place near is security campus on the national highway. A J&K police spokesman said that at around 8:10 PM, militants first attacked a police bunker at Botengo. “There was retaliatory fire. No injuries were reported. The militants then opened fire at a police naka at Khanabal, and the police returned fire again” said the spokesman.
“A tourist bus was hit by bullets, and about 18 were injured. Six of them died, while the others are undergoing treatment” said the spokesman.
The pilgrims were on their way to Jammu from Baltal in Ganderbal district after paying obeisance at the cave shrine. The bus (GJ-0929976) was not part of the yatra convoy. Nor was it registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board. It came under heavy fire near Batengoo village, notes The Tribune (TT).
News reports have quoted J&K police IG saying that security forces and not the yatris were target of the attackers.
Aljazeera has reported that some police officers speaking to news agencies on condition to anonymity said that the vehicle was caught up in the ‘cross firing’.
Various Indian politicians, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitly, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Aam Aadmi Party chief and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal have condemned the attack in strong words.
In a joint statement pro-freedom Kashmiri leaders, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik expressed grief over the killing of seven Amarnath yatris.
“The incident goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos. The Amarnath yatra has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of yearly rhythm and will remain so,” it said.
“Our heart goes out to the families of the bereaved and we express our heartfelt condolences,” they said.
LIST OF 7 PERSONS who LOST THEIR LIVES: (Source: J&K Police)
LIST OF 19 INJURED PERSONS: (Source: J&K Police)