Opposition National Conference president Farooq Abdullah apologised to the people of the country for the attack on Amarnath yatris, saying those "who fired upon innocents were not Muslims".
"On my behalf and on the behalf of the people here, I want to apologies to you for this attack and want to tell you that we are not the ones who kill people. We have always shown love and are still showing it today," he said.
He referred to the role of Muslims in the Amarnath Yatra. "Even today, when a yatri comes here, it is the Kashmiri Muslim who carries his baggage. The ponywala also is a Kashmiri Muslim," Abdullah said.
The former chief minister was speaking at a function to commemorate the 17th death anniversary of his mother Begum Akbar Jehan Abdullah at her mausoleum in Hazratbal here.
The whole of Kashmir had been saddened by the attack, he said, adding the attackers wanted to create communal tension in the country. "There is religious freedom in this country...communalism in India is at its peak again and it can devour us all. This attack is an example of communalism," he said. He said when the people in Jammu called for a bandh, the Kashmiris should have joined them because "this attack is on religion".
Terrorists on Monday killed seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, and injured 19 others as they fired at a bus in Kashmir's Anantnag district.
Terming the attack as one of the biggest tragedies, Abdullah said people of Kashmir were not communal. The member of Parliament from Srinagar said he was worried about the "repercussions" the attack may have outside the Valley.
"I hope that nothing happens...the attack was not done by the Kashmiris...not by the Muslims of Kashmir. Those terrorists cannot be Muslims," he stressed.
He appealed to every man and woman in India to remain calm and pray for the souls of those who are dead and "pray for those who are in hospital to get well".
"Come in large numbers, the way we visit many shrines in the country, so that these forces are defeated. Our religion teaches us brotherhood and we will continue that," he said. Abdullah asked the people of the country to love Muslims and Kashmiris.
He said that to bring Kashmir back to normal, people should start loving the people of the Valley. "The more love you will give them, the more response will there be from here and these forces will be defeated," he said.
He, however, refused to comment on whether the attack was the failure of the state government. "I don't think today is the time when I have to comment on that," he said, adding that he had "lost his sleep since he came to know about the attack."
"Innocents have been killed. If you (militants) want to fight, then fight against India if you have that power. Why are you firing at innocent?" he asked. "I also want to tell security forces here to stop oppressing us. The more you do it, the more this terror will increase and then you will not be able to fight it. We are hungry for love and not your money. Keep your money but love us," he said.