Police warned weeks ago of attack on Amarnath pilgrims, says ‘top secret’ memo

first_imgAs the government on Tuesday blamed separatists for gunning down seven Amarnath pilgrims and wounding 19 more in Kashmir before fleeing into the night, rebel groups in the disputed region condemned the deadly attack on civilians and insisted they had no part in it. An intelligence report that was circulated to Jammu & Kashmir police, military and paramilitary units two weeks ago indicates security officials had been expecting an attack. The intelligence report, marked “top secret,” warned that a “sensational attack by terrorist outfits cannot be ruled out” in the region. The memo, dated June 25, and verified as authentic by The Associated Press, said, “terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 100 police.” It described circumstances eerily similar to what transpired on Monday night- “The attack may be in the form of standoff fire on yatra convoy, which they (militants) believe will result in flaring of communal tensions throughout the nation.” Also Read  Police were searching for the assailants, who they said were from the Pakistan-based rebel group Lashkar-e-Taiba. “We’re investigating the attack, but we know certainly that the Lashkar has done it. We’ll soon deal with them,” police Inspector General Muneer Ahmed Khan said. Lashkar-e-Taiba denied any involvement in the attack, which they called “reprehensible” and “un-Islamic,” according to a statement sent to local media in Srinagar. “No Kashmiri has ever targeted any pilgrims, and this barbarity and atrocity is the trademark of Indian forces,” the group’s statement said. Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Kashmir, asked the Home Ministry to protect Kashmiri students and workers across the nation. “Possibility of backlash can’t be ignored,” he said in a Twitter message. Most of the pilgrims wounded in the attack were released from hospitals on Tuesday. The bodies of those killed were flown to New Delhi on their way to Gujarat and Maharashtra. The attack sparked outrage across Kashmir and other states. In the Jammu region, hundreds of protesters shouted angry slogans against the militants and burned a faceless effigy meant to represent both terrorism and Pakistan. Many shops and businesses were shut for a protest strike in Jammu. Meanwhile, students in Ahmadabad gathered for a sit-in protest against all religious violence, while peace activists planned a candlelight vigil in New Delhi on Tuesday night. Kashmiri separatist leaders condemn terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims Amarnath Yatra attack: Narendra Modi says India will never be bogged down by evil designs of hate  Police said the attack began with gunmen unleashing a hail of bullets on an armoured police vehicle and, soon after, on a nearby police patrol. They said that a bus carrying 60 pilgrims had been passing through the area when the patrolling police and militants were exchanging fire, and that some bullets struck the bus and its passengers. The police also said that the bus had been travelling at night, despite instructions to avoid the roads after dark. Though security had been increased along the route for the pilgrimage, thousands of deployed soldiers and police do not patrol overnight. Several bus passengers who were wounded gave a different version of events, saying the bus had been targeted from three directions during the attack. They said the driver kept driving the bus as it was being struck with bullets near Anantnag . The annual summer pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine, which began on June 29 under heavy security, has been targeted in the past. On Tuesday, thousands of pilgrims continued the pilgrimage undeterred, as soldiers and police increased security along the Himalayan route for buses carrying pilgrims to the base camps where they start walking the path to the high mountain cave. None of the rebel groups in the region have claimed responsibility for the attack, and the three top separatist leaders in Kashmir condemned it. They demanded an independent investigation into the attack. “This incident goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos,” the separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammed Yasin Malik said in a joint statement. Also Readlast_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *