Attack on Hindu pilgrims in Reasi indicates revival of a terror policy

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz. Updated: 6/11/2024 12:48:30 AM Front Page

72 persons have been killed in 7 major terror strikes on pilgrims in 24 years

Srinagar: Sunday’s fatal attack on the Shiv Khori pilgrims in Jammu’s Reasi district, in which 9 yatris got killed and 33 others were injured, indicates a major shift in the policy of the terrorists. Even as a total of 72 individuals have died in seven major strikes on different Hindu pilgrimages in the last 24 years in Jammu and Kashmir, gunfire had not been opened on any minority pilgrims after July 2017.
It is for the first time in 35 years of the separatist insurgency that as many as nine Hindu pilgrims have died in a terror attack while 33 have sustained injuries in Jammu. Previously, four Mata Vaishno Devi pilgrims had died and 22 persons had sustained injuries when terrorists caused a sticky bomb blast on their bus at Katra on 13 May 2022.
However, it is after seven long years that terrorists have opened fire from their assault rifles on a bus of the Hindu pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir.
Eight Amarnath pilgrims had been left dead and 18 injured when a group of the terrorists in an ambush near Khannabal in Anantnag attacked a bus which was on way to Jammu from the Baltal base camp of the pilgrimage. Security and intelligence agencies claimed that the attack had been launched by Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.
As condemnations poured in from all over the world, it proved to be the last terror attack on the Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir. No more terror attacks have been reported from anywhere across the Kashmir valley till date.
In the year 2006, five Amarnath pilgrims from Rajasthan were injured in a grenade attack on their bus at Beehama, Ganderbal.
The deadliest terror strikes on the Hindu pilgrims in Kashmir happened in 2000, 2001 and 2002. As many as 54 Amarnath pilgrims were killed in these attacks. One hundred and five persons sustained injuries.
On 1 August 2000, a group of terrorists armed with AK-47 rifles created mayhem at the Nunwan base camp of the Amarnath Yatra near Pahalgam. As many as 32 persons were killed. They included 21 Hindu pilgrims, 7 local Muslim shopkeepers and 3 soldiers. Sixty persons, including pilgrims and local visitors, sustained injuries.
This attack was part of a series of terror strikes on 31 July and 1 August, 2000, in which over 90 persons, including Hindu pilgrims and brick kiln workers, were shot dead.
On 20 July 2001, 13 persons, including 8 Amarnath pilgrims and 3 local Muslims, besides two soldiers , were killed and 15 injured when heavily armed terrorists attacked a yatra camp at the Sheshnag Lake between Pahalgam and the holy cave. Terrorists used hand grenades and assault rifles to kill the pilgrims.
On 30 July 2002, two Amarnath pilgrims were killed and three injured in a grenade attack in Srinagar. A week later, on 6 August 2002, terrorists carried out a deadly strike at the Nunwan base camp of the pilgrimage in Pahalgam. Nine pilgrims were killed while 27 others sustained injuries.
Top government functionaries on Monday held marathon meetings to explore whether Sunday’s terror attack in Reasi was a one-off strike or the beginning of a new offensive on religious lines. Even as the Reasi incident is still under investigation, a section of the security and intelligence authorities view it as a remarkable shift in the terrorists’ policy of attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is being pointed out that all the 7 major terror attacks in Jammu’s Rajouri and Poonch districts in the last two years were directed at the security forces. Only one twin attack of 1 January 2023, in which 7 civilians got killed, appeared to be focused on non-combatants. Notwithstanding intermittent inputs and threat perceptions, there was no attack on the Mata Vaishno Devi or Shiv Khori pilgrims.

Updated On 6/11/2024 12:50:58 AM

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