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Editorial
Attack on pilgrims
Killing of innocent civilians must be condemned but pertinent questions must not be lost sight of
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The militant attack in South Kashmir late Monday evening, in which 7 Amarnath pilgrims were killed and several others got injured, is shocking, deplorable and condemnable. Violence and killings, particularly of unarmed civilians is unacceptable and cannot be justified. Rightly so, the attack has been condemned widely across the country as well as in the Valley, including by the Kashmiri separatist leaders who maintained that this goes against the Kashmiri traditions and ethos. However, it would be too premature, as yet, to jump to conclusions that this attack marks a new direction in Kashmir's insurgency. Certain questions first need to be answered prudently and evidence brought to the fore fairly. The circumstances of the incident are as yet mired in mystery but several reports, quoting police, have mentioned that the bus with a Gujarat number plate was not the first target of the four militants who struck in the area. The militants first targeted a security bunker followed by a security picket and the fire was retaliated when the militants open indiscriminate firing in which the bus was caught. In most likelihood, the attack on the pilgrims was not a pre-meditated one as the bus was not part of the securitised convoy and was moving beyond the specified hours of passing through South Kashmir. However, deliberate targeting of the bus, which was fired upon from all sides, after it was sighted by the militants cannot be ruled out. It is also likely that the bus got caught at the wrong place at the wrong time in cross-firing between militants and security forces; as happened during the attack in 2000 at Pahalgam base camp. In any case, the tragedy of the incident and heinousness of the killings does not get diminished. Even if the killings were unintended, militants targeting security installations at public spaces including highways make the lives of ordinary civilians vulnerable.

Secondly, it is important to desist from the temptation of viewing this attack as a shift in Kashmir's insurgency. It is still too early to see this attack as some kind of an unfolding pattern of attacks on innocent and hapless civilians. It is equally too premature to completely discard such a possibility, giving the increasing radicalization of sections of Kashmiris and some militants making the striking deviation from political ambitions of 'azadi' to setting up 'Khilafat'. Thankfully, such attacks do not find much currency in the valley, which is still steadfastly connected to the syncretic traditions. These traditions have also kept the pilgrimage going for centuries including in the recent years even though many Muslims have been wrongfully dissociated by the government from the pilgrimage. There is need both within the Valley and rest of the country to continue to guard against such onslaughts on plural traditions and brutalization of innocent civilians, irrespective of the perpetrators.

As for the government, it must come with a holistic and fair analysis of what happened on Moday. Expectedly, the government will now ensure militarily action against the militants to sanitise the area, which is a fairly reasonable step unless the anti-insurgency operations are now marked by some parochial and vindictive ambitions. But it is equally important, if not more, to immediately probe and fairly investigate the many loose angles and the confusing sequence of events. Mist should be cleared on how this bus carrying a large number of Amarnath Yatris had no security cover and how it was able to travel around Kashmir during these difficult days without the knowledge of the authorities, beyond the specified time limit.


News Updated at : Wednesday, July 12, 2017
 
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SRINAGAR, July 11: National Conference (NC) president Dr Farooq Abdullah today said the dastardly attack on Amarnath Yatris was an attack on the soul and spirit of Kashmir and should be condemned unequivocally by every right thinking citizen of the state. Addressing party leaders, legislators and workers at Qaid Mazaar, Naseem Bagh at a function held to commemorate the 17th Death Anniversary of Madar-e-Meharbaan Begum Akbar Jehan, Dr Abdullah said the dastardly and heinous attack was an act of
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