Wednesday, 12 July 2017

As Kashmiris protest Amarnath yatri killings, conspiracy theories abound



By Ajai Shukla
New Delhi, 12th July 17

Drowned out by condemnation from the political mainstream at Monday’s terrorist attack in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims, Kashmiri separatist leaders sharply criticised an attack that they said violated syncretic Kashmiri tradition and faith.

The separatist “Joint Resistance Leadership” (JRL), consisting of Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, sharply condemned the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) strike near Anantnag that killed seven and wounded about 50 Amarnath pilgrims, most of them from Gujarat.

Offering condolences, a JRL statement said: “This incident goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos. The annual Amarnath Yarta has been going on peacefully for centuries and is part of our yearly rhythm and will remain so.”

On Tuesday evening, common Kashmiris from Srinagar braved a thunderstorm to stage a sit-in at Pratap Park, near Srinagar’s iconic Lal Chowk, to protest the attack.

Given the broad condemnation it is hardly surprising the LeT has remained silent on the attack. So far, no group has claimed ownership, or supported the attack.

Meanwhile, there is a noteworthy silence from the radicals who propagate Kashmir’s accession to a global Islamist state under Sharia law (the Khilafat, or Caliphate). These include Zakir Musa from Tral, in South Kashmir, who is challenging the dominance of Kashmiri nationalist leaders, like those in the JRL, who uphold Kashmir’s distinct political identity, and reject the notion of being subsumed into a global Muslim “ummah” (community).

That silence stokes apprehensions that the Kashmiri struggle is polarising along the Hindu-Muslim axis, with a radical fringe increasingly accepting attacks on minorities and ethnic cleansing.

The J&K Police (JKP), meanwhile, holds that Monday’s terrorist attack is the LeT’s revenge for the busting last week of a LeT module that included a Hindu member.

A senior JKP officer says the LeT decided to hit back after it was publicly lambasted in a triumphant JKP press conference on Monday. According to this version, Ismail, a Pakistani LeT commander in South Kashmir, targeted the offices of senior police officials – the senior superintendent of police (SSP) and deputy inspector general (DIG) – at Khanabal, near Anantnag. As the LeT attack began, the pilgrims’ bus, straggling behind the heavily guarded Amarnath Yatri convoy because of a punctured tyre, was “caught in the cross-fire”.

There is widespread scepticism of this account. Former J&K chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said people “need to stop peddling the ‘tourist bus caught in cross fire’ bunkum. You can’t be apologists for terror.”

Journalist Ahmed Ali Fayyaz of the State Times, posted a photograph on Twitter of the ill-fated bus. Not a single bullet-hole is evident on the bus’ body, with every shot having apparently pierced through its windows – an unlikely outcome of the melee of a crossfire, and more suggestive of a cold, well-planned terrorist attack.

Whatever the motives and methods, the Monday terrorist attack on the Amarnath Yatra indicates a fraying of the longstanding consensus amongst armed jihadi groups not to strike civilian targets, particularly those quintessentially Kashmiri in nature.

After three consecutive years – 2000, 2001 and 2002 – which saw terrorist strikes on the Amarnath Yatra, the last 15 yatras have been free of armed violence. Even after 2008, when violent civil protests broke out in Kashmir after the government controversially allocated almost 100 acres of land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, the yatra was not harmed or impeded.

Securing the yatra for the two months of its annual duration constitutes a major challenge for the security forces in J&K. This requires the securing of 315 kilometres of highway from Jammu to Pahalgam. There is also the requirement to secure the 46-kilometre foot yatra to the 3,888 metre-high Amarnath Cave, including three camp sites – Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni – where pilgrims halt overnight en route to the shrine.

Additionally, a secondary, 14 kilometre-long route from Baltal, near Sonamarg, is required to be secured.

Between 10,000 to 15,000 pilgrims reach the Amarnath Cave everyday. Since June 29, when the yatra opened this year, just over one and a half lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the shrine. 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Beyond doubt a dirty gambit played by Dovel and co.......RAW trick failed as no one accepted this brutal attack on innocent souls.

Alok Asthana said...

Whether the attacks was intended or a 'crossfire' can never be proved. Let us assume that it was an intended one. So what? A Pak based terrorist is not a saint to pick targets as per some 'kashmiriat' philosophy, just as terrorist anywhere else is not. They hit where it makes the biggest headlines. Indian terrorists (some on bail, some still in jail) did not go to Pak to hit their enemies but planted the bombs to kill brother Indians inside mother India itself. Recently, one terrorist has already been identified as a hindu - a Mr Shukla if I am not wrong. The aim of terrorism is, as the definition of terrorism clarifies, is to strike terror in the hearts of those who were not hit, rather than those who were. Who suffers is quite immaterial. Yes, the inclusion of civilians in the target list, something that has not happened for some years now, means that actual terrorism has just started in J&K. Attacking police and army can be said to be violence, but not terrorism. This one is terrorism surely.

Alok Asthana said...

On whether it was a planned attack or a 'cross-fire', I must say that if it indeed was a planned attack, the attackers were pretty third rate. It is difficult to explain how a determined professional attack party would fail to stop a civilian bus and then start the carnage. Even a recruit of Indian army will do a better job than these so called professionals.
Isn't the biggest culprit that guy(s) who allowed this vehicle to continue on road without escort, whatever be the reason. Hope we attach one hundredth of our energy to getting hold of this man and hang him.

Anonymous said...

The history of opposition to Amarnath Yatra speaks otherwise than a so called consesus on not harming the cause and yatries. It is obvious that it is not first time that Amarnath Yatries have been attacked by those religious bigots not for the cause of "Azadi" as many psudo libart sickulars would like us to belive but purely due to religious hatred. The so called Joint Front have been opposing everything related to Amarnath tooth and nail or else how can one forget about how badly one of the governors, Lt Gen SK Sinha, was embarrassed by the same crocodiles shedding tears when he tried to acquire some land for Amarnath Shrine board / management. Having ethenically clensing the valley of Hindus, these Jihadies consider once annually conducted Amarnath Yatra a threat to their objective of religious ideals. They even oppose the duration of the yatra and demand to shorten it. Fierce opposition to Sainik Colonies, rehabilitation colonies and efforts to bring back Hindus of the valley are based on their cherished wahabi-Zamaiti ideal of "Nizam-e-Mustaffa". Understanding the reality is the first attempt towards resolution and giving it secular colour is of no use. No one including Seikh could have ruled Kasmir valley (and thereby J&K) without the blessings of Jazam. Jamat was and is the foundation of resistance against Hindus of Jammu now extended to Hindus in Delhi. No use writting flowery English.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, There is no conspiracy.
The yatra has been a challenge to security forces for the last couple of years.
I think it is liberals who have in a way defended violence by preaching so many things to Govt and the Army, while not condemning violence.
There needs to be ruthless operations to neutralise terrorists.

No one is asking why the J&K government is sitting quite without creating jobs or carrying out development works
Both PDP and NC are guilty of that. Can you please write on that

Anonymous said...

hindu member?? what do you mean??? Wo HINDU dharm ko TYAG chuka tha, SAMJHE SAAB.

Anonymous said...

For all the kind words that Yatris are not harmed for so many years and all because of the so called Kashmiriyat and all, can someone please ask the valley people one simple question :
"Where are the Hindus ?"

Anonymous said...

What to call the people... hides behind... ethnic cleansing... saying... merely saying... Not Kashmiriyath...

Anonymous said...

NSR says ---

When do you learn the truth...
This is no charity from Hurriyat or Kashmiri people...
They already ethnic cleansed Hindus, Pandits, Sikhs, Gujjars, Christians, Budhists, etc...
Can you go and find anyone there? No because they left or living in camps...

The best solution is to abrogate the Article 370 so free movement oof people, development, industry, jobs, etc follows on and soon people will forget when they have a livelihood and enjoy all freedoms like rest of India...

There is no other way...

Anonymous said...

Alok Asthana how come a person who converted to Islam years back and then joined a terror outfit to establish Caliphate still remains a `Hindu". If this convoluted logic were to apply then what is wrong with those who claim that all Muslims of India are Hindu because their ancestors were Hindu.