As 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 Read
The Games Village, the heart of the upcoming Commonwealth Games in the Capital, had its soft launch on Thursday with organisers claiming that the facilities and ambience at the venue make it one of the best of its kind in the world.A bird’s eye view of the Commonwealth Games Village in New Delhi on Thursday.The Village will be home to more than 7,200 athletes and delegates for the duration of the Games. Some of the participating countries have already started sending their delegates, while the athletes will start arriving from September 23.The Village, situated on the banks of the Yamuna adjacent to the Akshardham temple, has 14 blocks, 34 towers and 1,168 fully-furnished air-conditioned flats, out of which 1,100 will be used to accommodate athletes and delegates.The flats have between two and five bedrooms, with two occupants per room.The Village also has facilities such as a shopping centre, saloon, a bank and two swimming pools too.”One of the pools will be used for leisure and the other, of standard international dimensions, will be for training purposes,” Organising Committee’s additional director general Ashok Kapur said.”The Village also has VIP lounges, a post office, plaza, bar and an informal dining area,” he said.In a first, competitors in four disciplines will be able to train at the Village itself without having to go to the competition venues.”Apart from the swimmers, weightlifters, wrestlers and athletes will be able to train at the Village itself,” Dalbir Singh, mayor of the Games Village, said.advertisement”This facility had not been provided at any previous Commonwealth Games,” Singh said, adding that the paralympic competitors in powerlifting can also train there.The training area for athletes includes an eight-lane track as well as a separate throwing area.There is also seating arrangement for 1,086 people.”In this way, the athletes will save valuable time that they would otherwise have spent travelling to and from the competition venues,” Singh said.In addition, there is a state-of-the-art gymnasium for the residents.”There are machines for weight training, cardio-workouts as well as stretching,” Cyrus Appoo, gymnasium supervisor, said.Some delegates have already started assembling in the Capital with representatives from England, Wales, Scotland, Australia and New Zealand already working on registration formalities.”There are certain basic facilities we provide to all residents. If they want something extra, we will provide them a ‘rate card’ which has pre-determined charges for various facilities,” Kapur said.The soft launch started with an inter-faith prayer where leaders from various religions wished the Games success.”The soft launch is designed to give us a feel about what is required by the time all the athletes arrive. Whatever is missing can be arranged in the next few days as only nuts and bolts need to be looked into,” Kapur said.Organising Committtee chairman Suresh Kalmadi said that there will be daily entertainment programmes in the evenings.