The attack on a bus carrying Amarnath Yatra pilgrims on the night of 10 July in Anantnag has evoked unequivocal condemnation from the people of Kashmir. The attack, that claimed the lives of seven pilgrims, is touted to be the worst on the Amaranth Yatra in the last 15 years.
Civil society groups called for a sit-in protest at Pratap Park in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk to condemn the attack. “This is not what Kashmiriyat is about” appeared to be the general refrain among the demonstrators – which included students, shopkeepers and entrepreneurs. The region and its people have always shared an amicable relationship with the yatris, the demonstrators told The Quint.
‘Yatris Are Our Guests’
Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, a 29-year-old artist and entrepreneur in Srinagar, called the Amarnath Yatra “a symbol of unity”.
Whenever any bad incident happened, Kashmiris have been at the forefront of helping these yatris. They are our guests. Kashmiris have always welcomed these people for their pilgrimage. This (the attack) is very sad.Syed Mujtaba Rizvi, Artist and entrepreneur, Srinagar
“I used to live in Karan Nagar, and my grandmother used to give Amarnath sadhus alms,” said Arif Magrabhi, who works as a psychologist.
Khurram, 33, a handicraft entrepreneur, said that after Burhan Wani’s in July 2016, “a langar was started in a mosque in Pahalgam just to make yatris more comfortable and safer”.
This act is very shameful and has disgraced our society. We have always loved the yatris and they have loved us back. This is an isolated incident and is condemned by all the sections of the society – people from all the communities and all religious backgrounds.
Essar Batool, a 29-year-old development practitioner, said the incident suggested the attack was targeted at the police, and not the Amarnath pilgrims.
It’s sad that lives were lost. Every life is important. But the incident and the police statement clearly indicate that this was not an attack on Amarnath yatris but on the police. The bus that was in violation of safety norms for yatris was caught in crossfire.Essar Batool, Development practitioner, Srinagar
Batool questioned the alleged security lapses that may have led to the killings.
The point here now is, who allowed the security lapse and why? There are too many question marks. Kashmiris have proved that there is no social sanction for the killing of pilgrims... We have asserted that we will not accept such killings, and even militant outfits have said it. Now, it remains to be seen if the Indian State is sincere enough to find out how the bus came to be there.
‘Militants Are as Brutal as The Oppressors’
Mohamad Ashraf, a 42-year-old shopkeeper, called the attack “a deplorable act” that should be condemned by everyone.
Yatris are our guests. We have always welcomed them and helped them carry out their religious duties. Even in the 90s, at the peak of militancy in Kashmir, yatris were mostly unharmed.Mohamad Ashraf, Shopkeeper, Srinagar
“We shouldn’t become the beast while overcoming the beast,” Ashraf said, a sentiment echoed by Zainab Bint Shamima Imtiyaz, a 26-year-old doctor. “The militants are as brutal as the oppressors,” she said.
The way they killed the members of J&K Police, the way the shot down PDP leaders... If this is war, this is a very dirty war with both sides being equally brutal.
‘Our Job Begins at Condemning These Actions’
The participants at the sit-in protest lashed out at those who were using the incident to serve vested interests. Civil society must play a proactive role to restore faith in Kashmiriyat, they said.
“This is a gruesome incident. I’m just disheartened at the thought of people using this horrible incident as a tool for propagating their own version of #AllLivesMatter and shameless “whataboutery”. The incident is very painful and should be condemned but we need to be really careful about the portrayal of it in media and otherwise,” said Mariyeh Mushtaq, a 20-year-old student.
Faakirah Irfan, a 22-year-old law student, stressed that such an act goes against the ethos of Kashmiriyat.
Our job doesn’t end at condemning these actions. Our job begins there. We actually have to prove to people that we seriously and sincerely condemn these actions: That Kashmiris do not stand with these killings, that this barbaric act is not what Kashmiriyat is, it’s not synonymous to Kashmir. Kashmiris stand against innocent killings… It is definitely not in my name, not in my culture, it is not what Kashmiriyat or my azaadi or my movement is about.