In an audio clip purportedly released by the Hizbul Mujahideen, the militant group has assured Amarnath Yatra pilgrims of safety while making the pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir this year. The 15-minute clip, circulating on WhatsApp, carries a picture of Riyaz Naikoo, the commander of the militant group, PTI reported.

At least eight people were killed and 17 injured in an attack on a bus carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in July 2017. This year, the pilgrimage will take place between June 28 and August 26.

“Our fight is only against India’s occupation of Jammu and Kashmir,” Naikoo purportedly said in the clip. “We have nothing against the people of India or Amarnath pilgrims who come here for religious reasons. However, they should not connect the pilgrimage to the political issue of Kashmir.”

Naikoo then purportedly added that the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims need not fear coming to the state. “We have hundreds of thousands of Biharis who come to Kashmir as labourers or beggars and are found in every nook and corner of the Valley,” he said. “Has there been any instance of them being harassed in so many years?”

The Amarnath Yatra began on Wednesday with the first batch of pilgrims flagged off from the base camp, reported ANI. “With the cooperation of public, all security agencies and development agencies, we have put a scheme in place and are trying our best to address concerns of the yatris,” said Vijay Kumar, adviser to the Jammu and Kashmir governor.