On Monday suspected militants in Kashmir, carried out a brutal attack on Amarnath, in what is being viewed as a game changer.
The attack left seven people dead — six of them women — and more than a dozen injured. The victims were pilgrims reportedly sleeping inside a vehicle parked on the national highway in the Botengoo area when their car was attacked.
There is combined anger and shock over the deaths of the pilgrims. Kashmiris across the political, religious and ideological spectrum have condemned the attack. Lashkar-e-Toiba has also denounced the Amarnath attack, calling it “highly reprehensible act.”
In 2000, a camp south of Kashmir in Pahalgam suffered a similar attack, resulting in the deaths of about 30 pilgrims. Similar attacks followed in 2001, 2002 and 2006.
On Tuesday, a senior army officer told Firstpost, “In coming days we will go after them and get them even if they are hiding in pigeon holes. This also applies to the people who have been sheltering and sympathizing with their cause,” he added.
This attack will create a greater divide between the Hindu-majority Jammu and the Muslim-majority Kashmir.
Traders in Jammu have already called for a strike on Tuesday, with Kashmir bracing for more bloodshed.
Militants were believed to be reacting to a recent campaign in which more than two dozen were killed by security forces.
The attack follows former Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Zakir Moosa’s calls for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Kashmir. And just last week pictures of young Kashmiri boys were seen removing pilgrims from a bus.
But senior ministers from both the Jammu and Kashmir governments have emphasized that the bus attacked on Monday was not part of a regular convoy of pilgrimage.
Senior army officers in south Kashmir say they are still taking precautions while dealing with the civilian population, as some offer safe passage to militants.
This post originally ran on teleSUR.
Also published on Medium.