Population sought punishment in one voice: Union minister Jitendra Singh hails J-K for resilience

Terrorists attacked a bus that was travelling from Amarnath to Srinagar on Monday night, killing seven pilgrims and injuring more than 20.

Kashmir Turmoil Updated: Jul 12, 2017 15:42 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
Amarnath yatra,Amarnath,Amarnath yatra attack
Bodies of the victims of terrorist attack on Amarnath yatris arrive at the airport in Surat, on July 11, 2017. (HT File Photo)

Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Wednesday Kashmiris need to be complimented for their unequivocal condemnation of the killing of seven Amarnath Yatris by militants on Monday as people in the valley said the attack on the centuries-old pilgrimage was against the ethos and tradition of the state.

“I think across sections of society people have come forward not only to denounce this attack but also with an aggressive plea that such incidents should be checked, not allowed to happen and the guilty should be brought to book,” Singh, the minister of state for Prime Minister’s office, said.

Kashmiri traders associations, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) and civil society organisations on Tuesday evening organised a protest march and sit-in demonstration at Srinagar’s commercial hub of Lal Chowk asking the government to bring the killers of the pilgrims to book.

Many Kashmiri social media users posted strong condemnation statements against the killings.

Separatist leaders also denounced the killings, saying it was “against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos”. Militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has been accused by the state police of planning the attack, denied its involvement and said it was against the teachings of Islam.

“That is something which was perhaps not very visible for quite some time. In one voice the entire populace has come forward and said that punish the guilty. There were earlier complaints that while denouncing acts of violence there were tendencies of selective condemnation, certain acts of violence were very vociferously condemned while others were apologetically condemned. But I think this is one incident which has vindicated us as there were no apologies in condemning it,” Singh added.

Singh and Hansraj Ahir, minister of state for home affairs, made an emergency visit to Srinagar in the aftermath of the brutal killing of the seven pilgrims in south Kashmir and attended a high-level security meeting in Srinagar on Tuesday.

They addressed the media at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre in Srinagar.

Monday’s attack was the fourth in 15 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.

“Amarnath Yatra is a unique pilgrimage where persons of one faith perform the Yatra and persons belonging to all other faiths play a host in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The tragic terror incident has been condemned by all parties and various groups across the entire state and the entire nation, particularly the entire public of Jammu and Kashmir,” a separate press note said.

Singh also spoke about an “aspirational” class of Kashmiri youth that “is keen to be a part of the developmental journey led by Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi.”

On militancy, Singh said that it will soon outlive its life, as seen in northeastern India and other parts of India. “We are now in last phases of militancy,” he said.

Singh, however, did not answer questions on the specifics of the attack but said the government was “not in denial mode”.

Answering a question from a journalist, he said that all observations and question by concerned citizens will be taken in the right spirit and the government will wait for inferences drawn by security establishment and experts.

On Tuesday, 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”.

First Published: Jul 12, 2017 15:42 IST