US condemns attack on Amarnath pilgrims

Wednesday, 12 Jul, 2017

As terrorists sprinkled the bus with gunfire, the man from Gujarat's Valsad showed exemplary grit and presence of mind as he kept driving even though the owner of the vehicle lay soaked in blood beside him, having taken three bullets.

"Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone", Modi tweeted.

Kashmir IG said the attack was carried out by the Lashkar.

Indian leaders and Kashmiri separatists united Tuesday to condemn an attack on a bus that killed seven Hindu pilgrims and threatened to exacerbate tensions in the country's only Muslim-majority state.

Undeterred by the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, hundreds of devotees on Tuesday set off for the cave shrine amid stepped up security measures.

Realising that if he stops the bus, terrorist would kill many innocent yatris, Salim drove for almost two kilometers before finally stopping near an army camp. The pilgrims were on their way back after visiting the Amarnath shrine.

During discussions at the Ministry of Home Affairs on the morning of July 11, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is believed to have presented this assessment to Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

The security officials were withdrawn from the area according to the protocol. The deployment will include 7 army battalions and central paramilitary forces. Omar Abdullah and Praful Patel also attended the meeting.

General Bipin Rawat also met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to discuss several security related issues in the wake of the terror attack. "The attack on #AmarnathYatra pilgrims is deplorable. shame on the perpetrators and hope justice is delivered swiftly", he tweeted. "My prayers with the victims".

"Every section of the society in Kashmir has condemned the unfortunate act of cowardice and terror on the Amarnath pilgrims". The Kanwar yatra would be a month-long event.

As NPR's Julie McCarthy notes, there have been competing accounts of the motives behind the attack: "One version of events says the bus full of more than 50 pilgrims got caught in the crossfire", she reports for NPR's Newscast unit.

Separatist groups in Kashmir have condemned the attack, saying it "goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos". "The entire nation is in shock".

Both in Delhi and in Srinagar, high-level review meetings were held.

Immediately after the meeting, the NSA briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the deliberations as well as the steps taken for the security of the Amarnath pilgrims, sources said.

He quoted a string of terror attacks in the Valley and sought a time-bound inquiry into the matter.

"We left Katra at 3 pm".

The attack is being investigated by the state police.