Katra bus fire: Unknown outfit claims responsibility, police say can’t vouch for veracity

Updated on May 15, 2022 04:11 AM IST

‘Jammu and Kashmir Freedom Fighters’ on Saturday claimed the responsibility for the Katra bus fire incident, which it said was an ‘IED blast’ triggered by one of its ‘special squads’

Four persons were killed and 24 others injured when the moving bus caught fire near Katra in Jammu on Friday. (PTI)
Four persons were killed and 24 others injured when the moving bus caught fire near Katra in Jammu on Friday. (PTI)

A letter purportedly issued by an unknown terror outfit ‘Jammu and Kashmir Freedom Fighters’ on Saturday claimed the responsibility for the Katra bus fire incident, which it said was an ‘IED blast’ triggered by one of its ‘special squads’.

A senior police officer, however, said they were investigating the case and can’t vouch for the veracity of this letter at present. “There is no terror outfit by such a name in J&K, but we are looking into the case from all possible angles,” he added.

Issued by one Nadeem Choudary, who claimed to be the spokesperson of the purported terror outfit, the letter read, “In the guise of religious pilgrimage, this Hindutva regime is trying its best to change the demography of Jammu and Kashmir. But we will sabotage their filthy propaganda at every level. This attack is linked to a series of bombings carried out by our special squad at Jammu, Udhampur and Rajouri areas. We warn the non-locals who are used as cannon fodder by this Hindutva regime not to visit the disputed territory.”

HT also doesn’t vouch for the veracity of this letter.

A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had earlier inspected the passenger bus that was gutted near Katra town, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district of J&K, officials said.

The team comprising explosives expert inspected the site for over an hour and collected samples.

Four persons were killed and 24 others injured when the moving bus, mostly ferrying devotees, caught fire near Nomai, about 3km from Katra, shortly after leaving for Jammu on Friday.

The four deceased have been identified as Laxmi, in her 30s, from Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh; Meena Devi, 40, of Pamote village in Katra; Bagheswar Chouhan, 55, of Gazipur in UP and his three-year-old grandson Shivam Chouhan.

No terror connection established yet: Reasi SSP

Reasi SSP Amit Gupta had said, “All the four dead have been identified. While bodies of two of them have been sent to their native places, kin of other two are on their way to Katra to collect their mortal remains.” The police officer said no terror angle has come to the fore so far.

“FSL and IB teams were there, along with the police. We have collected all evidences, but there is no such conclusion (of terror angle) so far. The probe is on,” he added.

Medical superintendent of government medical college and hospital in Jammu, Dr ADS Manhas, said, “The woman with 82% burns is in ICU, while two other patients were operated upon this morning. Two more are lined up for the surgical procedure. Remaining 16 are stable.”

Congress demands in-depth probe

Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Congress Committee has sought an in-depth probe into the Katra bus tragedy. Terming the incident shocking and heart-wrenching, its chief spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said an investigation was previously ordered in the New Year Vaishno Devi stampede as well, but neither its report witnessed light of the day nor any action was shown to have been taken.

Meanwhile, NC president Farooq Abdullah and vice-president Omar Abdullah have also expressed profound grief over the loss of lives. “It is expected that the departments concerned will depute a team to ascertain the causes behind the tragedy,” the duo said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    A principal correspondent, Ravi Krishnan Khajuria is the bureau chief at Jammu. He covers politics, defence, crime, health and civic issues for Jammu city.

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