Amarnath Yatra attack 2017: Why Pakistan-backed terrorists have crossed a redline in Kashmir

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New Delhi | Updated: July 11, 2017 12:01:48 PM

Amarnath Yatra attack 2017: Terrorists on Monday night killed seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, and injured 19 others as they attacked a bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district.

amarnath, amarnath attack 2017, amarnath yatra 2017, amarnath temple, amarnath yatra video, pakistan terrorism, amarnath yatra news, amarnath yatra latest update, lashkar -e toiba, letAmarnath Yatra attack: Security person stand guard after militants opened fire on the Amarnath Yatra in which some pilgrims were killed in Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. (PTI Photo)

Amarnath Yatra attack 2017: Terrorists on Monday night killed seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, and injured 19 others as they attacked a bus in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district. This was the worst attack on the Amarnath devotees since 2001. PTI reports that five of the deceased in the attack were from Gujarat and two from Maharashtra. The deceased from Gujarat were Hasuben Ratila Patal, Surakha Ben and Lakshimiben S Patal from Valsad, Ratan Zeena Bhai Patal of Daman and Prajapati Champaben of Navsari, while those from Maharashtra were Nirmala Ben Thakor, a Palghar resident and Usha Mohanla Sonkar of Danu. IG Kashmir Munieer Khan said the attack was carried by Pakistan LeT.

The worst terrorist attack on innocent pilgrims has enraged, shocked and pained everyone across India. With the attack, Pakistan-backed terrorists have crossed a red line in Kashmir. It also marks a new low in the ongoing rupture of Kashmir’s syncretic tradition since 1990. The Amarnath pilgrims were first attacked in the early 1990s. It was the time when militants had started forcing Kashmiri Pandits out of the state.

The Indian Express reports Amarnath pilgrimage has remained “conflict-neutral” for years because this has been an “important aspect of the syncretic tradition of Kashmir.” Not many people know that the Amarnath Shrine was discovered by a Muslim shepherd known as Buta Malik in 1850. Malik and his family remained custodians of the shrine along with Hindu priests of Dashnami Akhara and Purohit Saba Mattan for decades, according to IE.

The pilgrimage over the years nurtured communal harmony and composite culture of Kashmir, which has existed for centuries, as Muslims aided the passage of the pilgrims. However, things started to change since 1990 as over the years heavy security was needed to be deployed to save the yatris.

The Amarnath pilgrims were attacked for the first time in 1993 when Pakistan-based terror outfit Harkat-ul-Ansar announced a ban on the annual pilgrimage. The terror group had then claimed that their attack on Amarnath Yatra was in response to the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. The yatra, however, passed peacefully as Pakistani group’s threat failed to dent the wish of pilgrims. Moreover, Harkat’s ban was also widely condemned by people in Kashmir. IE reports that local Kashmiri militants had also refused to align with the Pakistani group formed by veterans of the Afghan war against USSR.

The pilgrimage remained out of the radar of terrorists even in 1999 when India defeated Pakistani forces in the Kargil war. However, the terrorists killed 25 people, including 17 Amarnath pilgrims on August 1, 2000 in Pahalgam. According to IE, the Jammu and Kashmir government had then claimed the terror attack had targeted security forces in Pahalgam, where one of the two Army base camps of the pilgrimage is located. The state government had said the attack was not primarily aimed at the yatra. However, the death of pilgrims generated outrage.

The yatra passed peacefully even as Kashmir witnessed mass protests in 2008. 2009. 2010 and last year.

With Monday’s attack, the terrorists have crossed a red line, something the state government, Opposition and even the separatists have acknowledged. Soon after the report of the attack came, former state CM Omar Abdullah tweeted, “every right thinking Kashmiri must today condemn the killing of the Amarnath yatris”.

Ruling PDP leader Imran Reja Ansari said, “This Barbaric Attack on Pilgrims goes Against the very basic fibre of Islam.intolerance of this kind can not be justified by any human. How can the so called Guardians of Islam justify this inhuman act. It is purely barbaric we should all rise against this cowardly act.” Even separataist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took to the twitter to condemn the attack, “As the unfortunate news of the Yatris Killing reaches us leadership & people of #Kashmir are deeply saddened &strongly condemn it. To us the pilgrims have and will always be respected guests.”

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