Why attack pilgrims? The communal designs of the terrorists make Amarnath Yatra a soft target

Jul 13, 2017
The first terror attack on Amarnath yatris in 17 years is an act of desperation by terrorists seeking to communalise the Kashmir Valley and the country after losing several men to security forces. The terrorists picked the weakest link in the security apparatus: a bus with pilgrims from Gujarat allegedly plying in violation of CRPF norms to strike. CRPF has stated that buses registered for the yatra move in a convoy protected by paramilitary/police personnel and halt at 7pm. But CRPF must probe whether checkposts allowed the bus to travel in violation of security norms.
Intelligence agencies had last month warned of a terror threat to the Amarnath Yatra and more troops were posted along pilgrimage routes. Hurriyat hardliner SAS Geelani dismissed this threat to the yatra claiming that Kashmiris have “always been friendly with yatris”. Geelani and other separatists like Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik have strongly condemned the killing of the seven yatris. But they do nothing to improve law and order in J&K, which allows terrorists the breathing space that security forces otherwise deny them.
Hurriyat’s intent and feebleness are best reflected in its attitude to the repeated attacks on local police personnel. When J&K police DSP Mohammed Ayub Pandith was lynched by a mob outside Jama Masjid in Srinagar, almost a full day elapsed before a “moderate” like Mirwaiz offered a half-hearted condemnation. Incidentally, Pandith was part of Mirwaiz’s security cohort when he met his end. The turn of events reflect the loosening hold of the Hurriyat to more radical elements motivated by jihad and establishing Islamic law in Kashmir. Pilgrimages are soft targets for terrorists in conflict zones. The Kashmir Valley’s syncretic traditions still exist but are being undone by decades of conflict and radicalisation.
National Conference Leader Omar Abdullah called on right-thinking Kashmiris to say unequivocally – this is #NotInMyName. This is an opportune moment for the central and state governments, Valley politicians, civil society and everyone with a stake in the return of normalcy in J&K to come together. A similar movement needs to happen in the rest of the country too, where home minister Rajnath Singh must ensure that Kashmiris – especially students – living elsewhere do not face misguided retaliatory attacks, while beef lynchings and anti-minority hate crimes are curbed with an iron hand.
Times opf India, July 13, 2017

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