On Monday night in Jammu and Kashmir, seven pilgrims were killed most of them were women, when terrorist opened fire on a bus returning from the shrine of Amarnath. In one of the worst terror strikes in state at least 20 more people were injured.
In Kashmir the police have said that terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was the mastermind behind the attack and it was Abu Ismail, who is a Pakistani terrorist. A major Lashkar unit in Kashmir had been busted by the police, just before the day of attack.
At an armoured police car the terrorist first fired around 8:30 pm. The terrorist fired indiscriminately when the police fired back. The pilgrims' bus, just 600 metres away, was surrounded on three sides by the terrorists and fired at.
From the shrine of Amarnath the bus was on its way back, the shrine is located in a narrow gorge at the end of a valley nearly 50 km from Pahalgam. On a highway after 7 pm for security reasons the rules of the pilgrimage bans buses from travelling but the bus had been delayed because of a breakdown said by the police source. The bus was not part of the official tour and it was registered in Gujarat, which means that it did not have the standard police escort.
For Amarnath this morning, more than 3,000 pilgrims are headed, many of them saying nothing would stop them from completing their pilgrimage. The number of vehicles escorting them has been increased by half.
A meeting has been called by Home Minister Rajnath Singh to review the security in Jammu and Kashmir, especially on the Amarnath pilgrimage, which takes place every year under tight security that includes about 40,000 troops guarding the route and a satellite tracking system.
On June 25 a letter from a top police officer to other security officials had warned of an intelligence input that said "terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 200 police officers and officials." The letter said the attack could target a Yatra convoy "which they believe will result in flaring of communal tensions throughout the nation." The police officer said in the letter that further corroboration was needed but an attack could not be ruled out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he was "pained beyond words", tweeted last night: "India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and the evil designs of hate."
Mehbooba Mufti Chief Minister said that the attack is "an assault on our values and traditions", adding: "The head of every Kashmiri hangs in shame."
About 100,000 pilgrims have already completed the journey to the Amarnath shrine that began late last month and is due to end in late August. From Jammu the journey begins which is 200 km from shrine.