Survivors of Monday’s terror attack, which killed seven Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, said a flat tyre caused a fatal delay of around two hours forcing them to travel on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway after dark.
Daksha, who is from Dahnu in Maharashtra, said, “The passengers spent the time chatting on the roadside while the tyre was being changed unaware of what lay in store for them minutes later,” according to a Hindustan Times report.
According to NDTV, Bhagya Mani, another pilgrim from Maharashtra, said: “Firing was on from all the sides; the driver drove the bus for a kilometer. It was pitch-dark and we could see nothing.”
Mani’s sister-in-law died in the attack, which left her injured. The two women had planned the pilgrimage together for months and had joined a group of yatris from Maharashtra and Gujarat. After Amarnath, they were heading for Vaishno Devi.
The survivors also recounted how the driver of the bus saved many lives by not stopping the vehicle even amid the hail of bullets.
“He kept driving and drove the bus to the DIG office, where all of us were secured,’’ said a pilgrim, according to the NDTV report.
Twenty pilgrims on the bus carrying 56 were wounded in the worst terror strike in the Kashmir Valley in years. Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba is believed to have been behind the attack.
The bus was surrounded from three sides and fired upon indiscriminately in south Kashmir. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited the hospital and spent the night in Anantnag.
“It is the worst incident, I have asked the police to find out all those responsible so that they are punished,” said Mufti, according to the NDTV report.
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“Pilgrims come to Kashmir every year for the yatra despite all difficulties. And seven people died today. I have no words to condemn it. I hope the security forces and the police arrest the perpetrators forthwith and take stern action against them,” said the CM.
How it happened:
- At around 8:20 pm on Monday. A white-coloured bus (GJ09Z9979) full of Amarnath pilgrims was travelling from Srinagar to Jammu.
- The bus was not officially registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board for the pilgrimage and was without police escort.
- As soon as the bus reached near Khanabal, a terrorist group opened fire.
- The attack left 7 people dead, while several others were injured.
- The driver stopped the bus at an intersection after driving for about a kilometer.