‘I condemn’: Kashmir reacts in anger and shame over Amarnath pilgrim attack

india Updated: Jul 13, 2017 15:12 IST
Toufiq Rashid
Toufiq Rashid
Hindustan Times
Amarnath Yatra,Amarnath attack,Kashmir

Security personnel stand guard at the site of the attack in Batengo village.(HT Photo)

I CONDEMN — most social media profile pictures of young Kashmiris carried this two-word message a day after militants killed seven pilgrims returning from the Himalayan shrine of Amarnath.

The Valley rife with a long separatist movement hung its head in shame and anger because, as netizens put it, the attack on the centuries-old pilgrimage is against Kashmiri ethos and tradition.

“Shame Shame Shame,” wrote a youth on social media, condemning the militants.

“Killing of seven #AmarnathYatris in south Kashmir is inhuman and barbaric. This is an act of cowardice, a terrorist attack. May good sense prevail,” wrote Ubaid Shafi, another netizen.

The outpouring of condemnation touched people from all walks of life.

Trade associations, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries and citizen groups held protest marches and a sit-in at Lal Chowk, the historic Srinagar square, and asked the government to “bring the culprits to book”.

Monday’s attack was the fourth in 17 years, including the August 2000 massacre of 30 pilgrims and local porters who help the devotees trek an arduous route to the cave shrine that has an ice stalagmite seen as a symbol of Shiva.

Millions of Hindus do the pilgrimage between July and August to the shrine at an altitude of more than 3,600 metres in the Lidder Valley of south Kashmir.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh praised the people of Kashmir for their unequivocal condemnation, which he said “proves that Kashmiriyat is still alive”.

Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said the act “makes heads of all Kashmiris hang in shame”. She went to Srinagar airport to pay floral tributes to the six women and a man killed in the attack on an unescorted bus from Gujarat.

Mufti consoled the bereaved families and said the gruesome act has shaken the edifice of Kashmiri ethos and culture and people across the board have condemned it.

Her predecessor and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah implored that it’s time to take a stand.

“This is a moment for us to define ourselves. Are we willing to abandon the whataboutary & take a stand. No terror & murder in our names,” he said in a series of tweets.

Separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik condemned the attack minutes after killings became known.

They said in a statement: “The annual Amarnath yatra has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so.”

The Mirwaiz said the attack cannot be condoned even if it was on police patrol and the pilgrims were caught up in the crossfire.

“It has hit the very ethos of Kashmir and is highly shameful. The pilgrims have been our guests for centuries and they cannot be harmed,” said the Mirwaiz, the Valley’s top cleric.

The jailed chairman of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Shabir Ahmad Shah, said such acts are completely inhuman, and demanded an impartial investigation.

Socio-political group Jama’at-e-Islami Jammu and Kashmir too called for an impartial inquiry while condemning the attack.

“This is a cowardly act which only a frustrated lot can commit,” a Jama’at statement said.

First Published: Jul 11, 2017 18:51 IST