Blood Soaked Pil­grim­age

At­tack on Amar­nath pil­grims would deepen Hindu-Mus­lim di­vide, fuel Kash­mir un­rest


The bru­tal at­tack car­ried out by sus­pected mil­i­tants on Amar­nath ya­tris last fort­night in Kash­mir’s Anant­nag district is go­ing to change the rules of en­gage­ment be­tween the se­cu­rity forces, the mil­i­tants and sym­pa­thiz­ers of new age mil­i­tancy in the Val­ley.

The das­tardly at­tack, which left seven peo­ple dead — six of them women — and more than dozen in­jured, was car­ried out by mil­i­tants in pitch dark at 8.25 pm. The pil­grims were sleep­ing in­side a ve­hi­cle parked on the na­tional high­way in the Boten­goo area of Anant­nag after their car was punc­tured.

The at­tack seems to be a re­ac­tion to a sus­tained coun­terin­sur­gency cam­paign launched by se­cu­rity forces against mil­i­tants in re­cent weeks dur­ing which more than two dozen mil­i­tants have been killed.

A mas­sive crack­down against mil­i­tants and mil­i­tancy sym­pa­thiz­ers in the com­ing days is likely to fol­low after the at­tack as pres­sure builds on the se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus to de­liver jus­tice to the per­pe­tra­tors of the act.

There is no deny­ing in the fact that mil­i­tants have crossed a red­line in the Val­ley. In Au­gust 2000 30 pil­grims were killed when mil­i­tants at­tacked a base camp in Pa­hal­gam area of south Kash­mir. Sim­i­lar at­tacks were car­ried out in 2001, 2002 and 2006.

“In com­ing days we will go after them and get them even if they are hid­ing in pi­geon holes,” a se­nior army of­fi­cer based in Anant­nag told First­post on Tues­day morn­ing.

“This also ap­plies for the peo­ple who have been shel­ter­ing and sym­pa­this­ing with their cause,” he added.

The at­tack is go­ing to have far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions not just on Kash­miris liv­ing in the Val­ley, but out­side too. For more than two decades, the cul­ture ethos of Kash­miris was al­ready stained with the forced mi­gra­tion of Kash­miri pan­dits in early 1990s. This at­tack is likely to fur­ther deepen the al­ready widen­ing di­vide be­tween Kash­mir and Jammu as it will pit a Hindu ma­jor­ity Jammu against the Mus­lim ma­jor­ity Kash­mir. Traders in Jammu have al­ready called for a strike on

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