Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav on Tuesday said Monday’s terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims was not a result of lapse in security. At least seven pilgrims were killed when suspected militants attacked a bus that came from Gujarat in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday night.
The intelligence agencies had received inputs of possible attacks during the yatra as early as June 25. The Opposition has questioned the Centre for neglecting the security of the pilgrims despite having the information beforehand.
“There has been no lapse, adequate security has been given,” Madhav told ANI. “The yatra has been peaceful for the last 15 days. Security forces have to succeed 100 times out of a 100, but the militants can execute an attack even if they succeed once.” He said further efforts will be made to ensure the yatra goes peacefully.
The Jammu and Kashmir police have said that Monday’s terror attack was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant organisation. However, the LeT has denied this. Spokesman Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi called the attack “highly reprehensible”. He said, “Islam does not allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts.”
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed condolences to the victims of the attack and said he saluted the people of Kashmir. Singh had called for a high-level meeting earlier in the day to discuss the situation with chiefs of RAW, Intelligence Bureau, NSA among others.
Gujarat CM announces compensation
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the victims of the attack. Moreover, Rs 2 lakh will be granted to the injured. “I want to thank the bus driver for saving lives of the people even when there was firing going on. I will nominate his name for the bravery award,” he said, while speaking to ANI.
Hours later, the Centre also announced a compensation of Rs 7 lakh for next of kin of each of the seven Amarnath pilgrims who were killed. Those injured will get Rs 1 lakh each.
The driver of the bus, Sheikh Saleem Gafoor Bhai, was lauded on Tuesday for his remarkable presence of mind when he did not stop driving even when the militants were firing. Saleem apparently kept on driving till he found a safer spot for the pilgrims when the firing began. The rescued pilgrims believe if Saleem had not continued driving, more people could have lost their lives.
“There was firing from all three sides, but he kept on and on for several minutes,” one of the injured told NDTV. “Our driver managed to take the bus a few kilometre ahead. He saved us.”
“He couldn’t save seven lives, but managed to move 50 people to a safe place,” Saleem’s brother Javed told ANI.
Remains of the deceased brought to Surat
Meanwhile, the remains of those who were killed in the attack were brought to Surat in Gujarat on Tuesday afternoon. The injured have also been brought back to Surat following which the chief minister met them.
The family of the victims have expressed doubts over the country’s security system. “Despite the presence of security officials, terrorists attacked,” Suresh Patel, son of victim Lakshben Patel told ANI. “What is the use of such security? They shouldn’t have taken a route where the officials were inactive. If anyone can come and fire a bullet at you, then we are not safe.”
Congress questions security lapse
The Congress on Tuesday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government why proper measures weren’t in place even though they had prior intelligence inputs on imminent threat. While sharing a video that took aim at the Centre’s demonetisation move, the Congress said, “Contrary to promises made, terror attacks continued post November 8, 2016 under the PDP-BJP government. The government has a lot of answering to do.”
Meanwhile, Congress leader Karan Singh said Governor’s rule should be imposed in Jammu and Kashmir to handle the prevailing situation.
National Conference chairperson and former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Tuesday appealed to the people to turn up in large numbers for the yatra, in order to “defeat these elements who want to destroy our nation”. He said it was important to show that the people were not afraid.