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Amarnath tragedy: Security lapse or what?
The attack on the yatri bus raises more questions than it answers
By Abdul Majid Zargar
All sections of Kashmir Society have condemned the dastardly attack on a bus ferrying Yatris to Holy Amarnath cave. Seven yatris were killed in the cowardly attack and many more injured.

While feeling grieved and outpouring of emotions is a natural human trait, what is bad and loathsome, is the mention of Islam & Muslims in their condolence messages. Many have loaded their messages with the words ' this is against the basic tenants of Islam' or 'The killing is unislamic' etc. etc. These messages pre-suppose that the Yatris were killed by Muslims or Islamists. I take umbrage at these pre-drawn conclusions.

The attack on the yatri bus raises more questions than it answers. Here are the questions which need answers & explanations:

1) How come that a bus carrying nearly 60 yatris was allowed to proceed to Baltal, one of the two launching points for the Yatra. Normally all vehicles carrying yatris are supposed to be registered with Amarnath Shrine Board and in the instant case, the bus was plying without the said registration. Not only did the bus reach its first leg of journey, it was allowed to proceed on its return journey as well.

2) Leave aside the bus, Even Yatris have to get themselves registered individually or in groups. For this purpose, various registration centres, managed by designated banks, have been opened all over India. It is now established that none of the yatris travelling in the ill-fated bus was registered.

3) All Yatri vehicles are barred from plying after 7.00 PM. In the instant case, the accident happened at 8.30 PM, well beyond the stipulated time.

4) According to news reports, a police patrol vehicle was plying ahead of the ill-fated bus.(Hindustan Times 11th July). If the police version of cross fire is taken at its face value, the security personnel in the said vehicle should have been the first persons to face the bullets and get injured in the process. So far no such injuries have been reported.

5) The theory of cross fire has been trashed by a senior Journalist of the State, Ahmed Ali Fayaz. After uploading the picture of the damaged bus, Look at his tweet, posted on 11th July at 2.24 PM.

"@ahmedalifayyaz

What a 'crossfire' dear J&K Police! All bullets through windows. None on the body. Six of the seven dead yatris are women. No cop, no militant injured"

6) Local residents have reported that the security forces reached the spot 25 minutes after firing incident and didn't allow them to provide relief to injured yatris, who were screaming and crying for help from inside the bus (Greater Kashmir 12th July).

7) It needs to be noted that that the accident spot is barely 200 meters away from Army Garrison. A police post of 'Special Operations group' of Anantnag police is also in close vicinity ( HT/GK-Supra)

8) Only few days ago, a Hindu militant namely Sandeep Kumar, said to be an associate of Bashir Lashkari, a top militant(Since killed), working in the same district, was caught alive in a security operation. While his revelations post interrogation, have not been made public but J&K Police did generate some intelligence reports to the effect that an attack on Yatris was in offing with huge causalities planned to provoke a backlash in rest of India. The said intelligence input was ignored by all security agencies.

9) The Driver of the bus, Salim, who miraculously survived the deadly attack has been rewarded instead of being taken to task for plying the bus illegally, without registration with Shrine Board. The actual owner of the bus has still not been identified for questioning.

The following debatable conclusions, (I repeat, debatable) arise from the above:

1) That letting an unregistered bus to travel to Baltal along with unregistered yatris could be a pre-planned operation.

2) That in contravention to standard operating procedure, the bus was allowed to ply after sunset in darkness to make it a soft target and conceal the identity of attackers by letting them disappear under the cover of darkness.

3) That the security vehicle travelling ahead of the bus was to strengthen the narrative of cross fire or even a hint to attackers to attack the bus following it.

4) That the theory of 'encounter' is planted to justify recovery of live bullets of Indian mark from the accident site.

5) That the purpose behind disallowing local people to provide rescue and relief operations to the screaming injured yatris was a deliberate attempt to add to number of casualties.

6) That the Driver Salim has been rewarded to elicit a statement of choice from him.

What Could be the motive behind this operation?

1) Gujrat elections are to be held later in this year. BJP president, Amit Shah has already set in motion the polarization game by raking up derogatory anti-Muslim rants like 'Aliya, Maliya & Jamaliya". The killing of Gujarati yatris can prove a big boon in this communal enterprise started by Shah. Infact, Patidar leader, Hardik Patel has already expressed such apprehensions(http://www.jantakareporter.com/india/amarnath-salim/135830/)

2) The Govt. wants a ruse to go for a massive bloodshed in Kashmir in tune with 'Doval Doctrine'. So far it has shown some degree of restraint in dealing with protestors, especially those who put themselves in line of fire, while trying to save militants in Cordon & search operations ( Hint of this in First post dt. 12th July)

The above apprehensions or doubts can only be cleared by a high level independent enquiry, preferably by UN or its human rights bodies like 'Amnesty International'. But till such an enquiry is held and perpetrators of this ghastly crime identified beyond any reasonable doubt, it is quite inappropriate and preposterous to presuppose involvement of Kashmiri Muslims in the incident. To achieve this it is of paramount necessity to preserve the evidence like the damaged bus and isolate evidences like surviving yatris and Driver Salim from Government influence.

Most importantly, by lacing condolence messages with words like Islam, one is doing the biggest disservice to the objective itself which should be to identify the perpetrators and award them an exemplary punishment.

(The author is a practicing chartered Accountant. Feed back at abdulmajidzargar@ gmail.com)


News Updated at : Friday, July 14, 2017
 
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