Amarnath Yatri killing: They had already their darshan, were returning home

SRINAGAR: The bus carrying pilgrims was on way to Jammu and the pilgrims had their darshan two days back, senior PDP minister Naeem Akhter told Kashmir Life. He met the pilgrims and said the pain is indescribable.

Chief Minister Ms Mehbooba Mufti consoling the sister of a slain pilgrim in Anantnag. Photo: Facebook

The government is planning flying the injured out by the first morning flight even though most of them are out of danger. “In two cases, the doctors have recommended hospitalization for two more days,” he said.

Akhter said the pilgrims, comprising 40 of them, had their darshan two days back and had stayed in Srinagar. They were returning to Jammu and tragically the bus had a tyre puncture in outskirts of Bejbehara that took around 30 minutes.

“The pilgrims told us that a police bunker (armoured vehicle) was following them and that was actually attacked,” Akhter said. “It seems they were caught in the attack.” Police earlier said the militants had attacked them twice in the belt – first at Bontengo and then near Khanabal. Fire was returned at both the places but a tourist bus was hit by 18 bullets.

Akhter, however, termed the killings “a great set back to Kashmir”. The killings will be used to get us a bad name, he added.

Akhter said the police have informed the government that they have identified the group of militants from Lashkar-e-Toiba. “They say it was a four member group led by a Pakistani whose name is Ismail,” Akhter said. “There are three others including a Pakistani and two locals.”

The minister who rushed to the area within minutes after the attack was reported said some of the survivors were genuinely angry and in excruciating pain, especially the one who had lost her sister.

“Chief Minister apologized to them, insisting this is the least she can do,” Akhter said. She has decided to stay with the families for the night.

Chief Minister with all the top officers and the ministers visited the local hospital and enquired about the welfare of the injured. She said the government will take care of all their requirements. Chief Minister was accompanied by Akhter, Sartaj Madni, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, State Police Chief and IGP Kashmir.

Officials said it was a 40-member group comprising men and women, of whom seven are dead and 15 are injured. None of the injured is in a critical state. The entire bus was from Gujarat.

Yogesh Prajapati, one of the travelers in the bus, told a TV channel that they lost more than two hours in the tyre puncture. The bus had left at around 5 pm from Srinagar. He said the puncture was around five kms from Srinagar. He said there was no problem where they managed the puncture. He added that they were not carrying any security. “It all happened in two minutes,” he added. “We fled as the passengers were crying and stopped at Khanbal chowk.”

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