16 pil­grims killed in bus crash in north­ern In­dia

PM Modi of­fers his con­do­lences to pil­grims

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

At least 16 Hindu pil­grims were killed and many more in­jured yes­ter­day in a bus crash in north­ern In­dia, po­lice said, just days af­ter gun­men shot dead eight wor­ship­pers mak­ing the same holy visit. The bus plunged into a gorge in Jammu and Kash­mir, the state where hun­dreds of Hin­dus make the an­nual pilgrimage to a Hi­malayan cave revered as the abode of the god Shiva. “16 peo­ple are now con­firmed dead, 19 with se­ri­ous in­juries and eight oth­ers with mi­nor in­juries,” the state’s po­lice force said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

Some of the worst in­jured are be­ing air­lifted to hos­pi­tal, while oth­ers were taken to lo­cal clin­ics for treat­ment, po­lice said. For the sec­ond time in a week, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi of­fered his con­do­lences to the pil­grims who died mak­ing the holy jour­ney. “Ex­tremely pained by the loss of lives of Amar­nath Ya­tris (pil­grims) due to a bus ac­ci­dent in J&K,” the prime min­is­ter said, re­fer­ring to the state by its ini­tials. “My thoughts are with the fam­i­lies of the de­ceased.”

The tragedy came as an­other Hindu pil­grim died Sun­day from in­juries sus­tained six days ago when uniden­ti­fied gun­men opened fire on a bus full of wor­ship­pers. “One lady who was in­jured in the July 10 at­tack suc­cumbed to her in­juries in hos­pi­tal,” S P Vaid, the state’s di­rec­tor gen­eral of po­lice, said. Her death takes the toll from Mon­day’s at­tack to eight, with seven women and one man killed in the late-night as­sault. Most of the vic­tims were from the western state of Gu­jarat.

It was the worst such at­tack in the di­vided Hi­malayan re­gion since 2000 when gun­men fired on a group of Hindu pil­grims, killing 32 peo­ple in­clud­ing two po­lice of­fi­cers. In­dian lead­ers and Kash­miri sep­a­ratists united in their con­dem­na­tion of this lat­est at­tack. No group has yet claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity. Au­thor­i­ties said the two-month pilgrimage sea­son would con­tinue af­ter the at­tack on the bus, which was not part of the of­fi­cial con­voy car­ry­ing pil­grims.

Tens of thou­sands of Hin­dus from all over In­dia travel to Kash­mir ev­ery year to visit a phal­lus-shaped ice for­ma­tion in the Amar­nath caves that is wor­shipped as a sym­bol of Shiva, the Hindu god of de­struc­tion. The caves, which lie 3,900 me­ters high and can only be reached on foot or on horse­back, are seen as a sym­bol of re­li­gious unity in the volatile re­gion. The ice for­ma­tion is said to have been dis­cov­ered in 1850 by a Mus­lim shep­herd who be­came a cus­to­dian of the shrine, along with two Hindu priests. —AFP

RAM­BAN: In­dian po­lice per­son­nel and lo­cals carry in­jured and dead from the site of a bus ac­ci­dent in Ram­ban dis­trict, about 140km from Jammu yes­ter­day. At least 16 pil­grims of Amar­nath Ya­tra were killed and more than 30 in­jured when the bus car­ry­ing them fell in a gorge in Ram­ban dis­trict on Jammu Sri­na­gar Na­tional High­way, me­dia re­ports said. —AFP

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