The ghastly attack on the Amarnath yatra pilgrims has shocked the entire nation. At least 7 persons were killed in the attack that took place on Monday at around 8.30 pm.
The Gujrat registered bus GJ09Z 9976 was neither registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board nor had it adhered to the security detail which is compulsory for the pilgrims in view of the terror threat.
The bus had in fact completed the yatra two days back and was in Srinagar since then, deviating from the Amarnath yatra route which goes to Jammu. Also, despite the sensitive security situation prevailing in Kashmir, the bus was on its way to Jammu at night, which is not permissible as it exposes the vehicles to terror attacks, officials said.
The bus came under terrorists' fire near Khanabal in Anantnag district at around 8.30 pm, over one hour after the patrolling by the security forces on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway is wound up.
Preliminary investigations show that the bus driver had violated rules for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on the highway after 7 pm as the security cover is withdrawn after that.
All vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims are provided security cover when they move in a convoy but the security agencies had no information about movement of this particular bus.
The normal timings for movement of vehicles from Pahalgam towards Jammu is in the forenoon as the authorities ensure that they leave Kashmir by 1 pm.
The officials said that in view of today's incident, the security measures will be reviewed further.
The terrorists first attacked a bullet-proof bunker of the police at Botengoo, a police official said, adding it was retaliated. There were no injuries in this attack.
Thereafter the terrorists fired on a police picket near Khannabal, the police added.
When the police retaliated, the militants fled, firing indiscriminately in which the bus carrying the yatris got it.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was personally monitoring the situation, strongly condemned the dastardly attack and asserted that India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and evil designs of hate.
He said he spoke to Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and assured all possible assistance required.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Vohra and Mehbooba.
"Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone," Modi tweeted.
"My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones in the attack in J&K. My prayers with the injured," he added.