Pune: Army and security officials believe that the terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir, on Monday, was caused to target India’s apparent flaw lines, create schisms in society and prevent the achievement of a well-knitted and integrated society. An event as big as the Amarnath Yatra and as emotive, if targeted, has the potential of spinning off into an adverse situation elsewhere in mainland India.
Ruling out any security lapse, Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda, who commanded the Udhampur-based Army’s Northern Command, said the ‘question does not arise’. “The bus was not registered with the government for providing security and at the same time, it was travelling at night in the absence of any road opening party. After this incident, the government must not stop the Yatra as this is what the enemy wants. The religious event has been targeted to create a rift among people,” Hooda said.
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (retd), the former General Officer Commanding of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, who has seen eight Amarnath Yatras and organised four of them, said that the Yatra is not just a pilgrimage – it’s a national event and the attack’s aim is to create communal tension.
“As lakhs of pilgrims visit the holy shrine, guaranteeing any form of 24x7 security is almost impossible. The last time actual targeting of the Yatra took place was
“Although there is no complacency in security, the absence of violence can always lead to such a tendency. Even if the bus full of pilgrims was not registered (and there will be scores of such buses), it contained our countrymen. Even if they chose to flout rules, there should have been no way their lives should be allowed to be endangered by letting them through check posts, on the National Highway through a terrorist threatened area and that too unescorted.
“The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) works relentlessly and the security agencies are dovetailed into the preparation very early. Apart from wishing to give an administratively flawless Yatra to pilgrims, it is the issue of safety and security, which is most essential,” Hasnain further added.
Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (retd), former Additional Director General of Military Operations, appealed not to correlate this attack to religion. “It is a cowardly attack to dissuade people from visiting Kashmir. The attackers must not forget that Kashmiris depend on tourism to a large extent for their bread and butter. If there is no tourist, who will employ the poor people and feed their children? The Amarnath Yatra provides employment and in two months people earn enough to sustain their livelihood for the remaining part of the year.
“It is the Kashmiris who sell worship items like incense and carry the pilgrims. All food stalls are run by them. The attackers should think whether they are doing good or bad to the Kashmiris. People in Kashmir must unite and teach a lesson to the handful of terrorists and separatists because it has to be done by them and the outsiders. These incidents give a bad impression and when Kashmiris go to other parts of the country, people look at them with suspicion. They find it difficult to get jobs or admission in colleges outside Jammu and Kashmir,” Shekatkar told Sakal Times.
Colonel P Kumar (Retd), meanwhile, said, “The attack on Amarnath Yatra is yet another extension of proxy war waged by Pakistan in the Valley. By killing innocents during the pilgrimage exposes new sinister design in fermenting terror, which is most unfortunate and regrettable.”