New Delhi: At least seven people died and 19 others were injured after Islamic terrorists attacked a bus ferrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday night.
The last big attack on pilgrims was carried out in August 2002, in which nine people were killed in Pahalgam. While Pak-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is believed to have been behind all attacks on pilgrims so far, this time, according to a senior CRPF officer, LeT looks to have been assisted by the local Hizbul Mujahideen (HM). A claim that is lent credence by several group photographs of extremists from both the islamic terror outfits clicked together, released this year.
If true, this will be perhaps the first time that the biggest islamic terror group in Kashmir –HM – is involved in attacking Amarnath Yatris.
The attack happened just hours after the curfew was lifted and social media ban was taken off in the Valley. The restrictions had been placed over the weekend in anticipation of an attack to mark the first death anniversary of Hizbul commander and terrorist Burhan Wani.
In the last several decades, in which devotees have come on an annual pilgrimage from across the country, the yatra has been attacked by islamic terrorists five times.
1. August 1, 2000
The last big attack on Amarnath pilgrims was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba in 2000. LeT terrorists had killed 30 pilgrims in Pahalgam, the base camp for Amarnath yatris. The yatra, however, resumed in just a few days under heavy security cordon.
2. July 20, 2001
Thirteen people were killed, including three women pilgrims and two police officers, when terrorists hurled two grenades at a camp where pilgrims were resting. The assailants then opened fire at the camp. 15 pilgrims sustained injuries in the attack which was said to be a handiwork of LeT.
3. July 30, 2002
Two pilgrims were killed and three wounded when grenades were hurled at a taxi in Srinagar, which was on its way to Amarnath cave shrine base camp.
4. August 6, 2002
Three LeT militants entered the Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp early morning on the August 6 and opened fire, killing nine people and injuring 27, including pilgrims and security personnel. The same year saw two attacks on Jammu’s Raghunath temple as well, which claimed 18 lives.
5. June 21, 2006
Ten pilgrims were injured, though no one was reported killed when militants hurled grenades at their bus in Srinagar.
The 2008 unrest:
Apart from terror incidents, Amarnath Shrine Board has also seen a bloody unrest in 2008 which left 63 people dead. The controversy was about the state government transferring 100 acres of land to Shree Amarnathji Shrine Board. The decision led to huge demonstrations in Kashmir triggering retaliatory protests in the Jammu region.