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Terror attack on vital Amarnath pilgrimage route sets warning bells ringing among security forces

The attack has sent signals to the top brass of security forces to revisit the security arrangements for the Amarnath pilgrims on both routes, Pahalgam and Baltal.

SP Sharma | Jammu |

The Anantnag terror attack on a joint patrol of CRPF and J&K Police has not only exposed the chinks in the security arrangements for the upcoming Amarnath pilgrimage but has also set the warning bells ringing among the security forces.

Five CRPF personnel were martyred and three injured in the attack by Pakistani terrorists in broad daylight in the highly terror-prone district in South Kashmir.

The attack has sent signals to the top brass of security forces to revisit the security arrangements for the Amarnath pilgrims on both routes, Pahalgam and Baltal.

The terror attack came just a few minutes after Governor Satya Pal Malik had in an appeal in a media interaction asked the terrorists to lay down their arms and come for talks.

The place of the attack is of significant importance in terms of security as pilgrims for both routes have to drive through Khannabal in the Anantnag district. The terror attack two years ago in which 11 pilgrims were killed also took place near Khannabal.

The Governor and his advisers have been holding meetings to review the security arrangements for the pilgrims. A top officer of the union home ministry last week reviewed the security on both routes and also met the Governor.

Meanwhile, the wreath-laying ceremony was held on Thursday at the headquarters of CRPF in Srinagar. Rich tributes were paid to the five martyred jawans. J&K DGP Dilbag Singh and top officers of CRPF were among those who laid wreaths on the mortal remains of the martyrs. Their bodies were later flown to their respective home towns.

The attack has also indicated that Pakistan’s ISI was trying to revive the Al-Umar Mujahideen (AUM) terror outfit led by Pakistan based Kashmiri Mushtaq Ahmad Zargar alias Latram. Zargar was released by the government along with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in a swap with the passengers of the hijacked Indian Airlines plane in 1999. The AUM had claimed the responsibility for Wednesday’s terror attack.

The AUM was set up in 1989 by Zargar with the active support of the Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and funding by Pakistan. AUM was banned by the government and before being arrested in 1992, Zargar was involved in the killing of several Hindus and attacks on security forces.

Governor Malik has expressed deep anguish over the loss of CRPF men in Wednesday’s terror attack in Anantnag. Condemning the cowardly attack, the governor said his heart went out to the slain soldiers and their families, a Raj Bhawan spokesperson said.

“Whenever successful attempts are made by the security forces to either conduct peaceful elections or continuous elimination of terrorists, the masterminds of terrorists from across the border order them to carry out fidayeen (suicide) attacks on forces and yesterday’s attack in Anantnag district was also a fidayeen attack,” Malik said.

He added that the terrorists and their handlers should know that “our resolve to eliminate this menace (of terrorism) is unshakable”.

Meanwhile, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq held a meeting of the Hurriyat in Srinagar to take stock of the situation. He drove to the residence of top separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani after the meeting to discuss the issue with him.

He tweeted; “Hurriyat meeting going on at its headquarters. Concern and anguish over continued bloodshed and killings across the valley. Reiterate that political engagement most effective way to move forward and end painful bloodshed. Urge Indo-Pak leadership to break the ice at SCO and engage with each other. People of Kashmir are suffering the consequences of the conflict for decades now”.