July 2017 News

Outraged Kashmir Condemns Killing Of Yatris

11 July 2017
Rising Kashmir
Riyaz Bhat

Srinagar: Outraged over the killing of seven Amarnath pilgrims in Anantnag, several civil society, trade and tour organisations staged demonstrations to condemn the incident and demand impartial probe into the attack. Members of civil society, trade and tourism organisations, journalists and people from other walks of life assembled at Pratap Park and Press Enclave near the city centre, Lal Chowk, to condemn the incident. Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS) sought impartial probe by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) into the attack. Speaking on the occasion, coordinator of JKCSS, Khurram Parvez, said 'Kashmiris are conscious of this pain and can't withstand this pain being inflicted on anyone else.' He said the Indian investigative agencies have failed to establish truth in such killings in the past. 'Kashmiris have always condemned such killings. The UNHRC should be allowed to probe all mysterious killings that occurred in Kashmir, including at Nadimarg and Chhatisinghpora,' Khurram told reporters. 'They are trying to use these incidents and create a media spectacle to further their violence against people of Jammu and Kashmir and that is what this protest is against. We do not want these killings to be used to further legitimize the violence against Kashmiri people.' 'We condemn killings of the yatris and we want that people of India should also come forward and express same kind of outrage when Kashmiri civilians are getting killed,' Khurram added. Traders, tour operators, houseboat owners and hoteliers assembled in the press enclave here holding placards demanding an 'independent probe' into the 'brutal killings' and condemning the 'barbaric attack'. The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) also took out a rally from their office near Polo View here and condemned the attack. The KCCI demanded a judicial probe by a retired Supreme Court judge. Speaking on the occasion, senior KCCI member Ibrahim Shadad said, 'It is a very sad occasion for us. We have always welcomed pilgrims. We Kashmiris have always cooperated with them and will continue to.' 'KCCI has always condemned such killings,' he said while demanding judicial probe into the incident and stern punishment for those found guilty for the killings. Travel agencies, hotels and allied agencies will suspend their business as a mark of protest. Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK) called for one-day shutdown of business establishments while Travel Agents Society of Kashmir (TASK) called for two-day shutdown against the incident. Secretary General TASK Ather Yamin said such acts are the handiwork of those who don't want Kashmir to prosper. 'We are deeply saddened by this dastardly act. The attack is not only on yatris but on humanity. Every Kashmiri is with the victims and mourn the killings. We condemn the attack in the strongest terms,' said Yameen, demanding impartial and time bound probe into the incident. General Secretary of TAAK, Farooq Kutloo said, 'We have assembled here because the unfortunate incident has directly affected our tourism industry as we have got a lot of calls from tourists since yesterday for cancellations.' Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation (KTMF) headed by Muhammad Yasin Khan also condemned the incident. In a statement, Khan who also heads the Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA) said it this hour of grief and entire Kashmir is with the families of those bereaved. Reiterating that Kashmir is a land of communal harmony, Khan appealed the people to be united in this hour of grief and not fall prey to communal forces of divide. Khan also sought attention of the government towards the security of Kashmiri Muslims outside Kashmir. Kashmir Hotel & Restaurant Owners Federation (KHAROF) termed the attack as an onslaught on the tradition of brotherhood and secular fabric of the valley for which it has been well-known across the world since ages. 'The attack goes against the basic human dignity and values of a civilized society which deserves to be condemned by one and all in harshest words.' Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers cum Dealers Union and New Kashmir Fruit Association Parimpora Srinagar said the visitors and the yatris are the guests of Kashmiris and are always treated respectfully by them. 'People have always come out in support of the yatris and other tourists whenever they were in trouble. People saved the lives of the tourists when they met with an accident at Barsu Ganderbal and people of the locality shifted them to hospital for immediate medical attention. The religious harmony of Kashmiri people is age old and exemplary.' Chairman of Nigeen Tourist Traders Association (NTTA), Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo said, 'We all condemn the barbaric attack on the yatris and we are shocked and have no words to express our sorrow for their families who were killed in this unfortunate incident.' 'Kashmir is known for its hospitality and the deadly attack sends out a negative message,' said representative of Travel Trade Association of Kashmir (TTAR), Farooq Ahmad, adding the attack should be investigated and stern action should be taken against the culprits. Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) issued a statement to express anguish over the incident. 'Our heart goes out to the victims of this senseless violence which plays with the lives of citizens for political gains. The usual condemnations have become a meaningless ritual. But we really feel aggrieved by the loss of precious lives who had come here for a journey of faith,' the KCSDS statement reads. It also raised questions on the 'conflicting versions' of the incident and demand impartial investigation. 'Following points are worth consideration as to why a probe in the matter is indispensible- That the bus carrying the Amarnath Yatris was plying beyond the deadline prescribed for such travel, that in contravention of the rules & regulations, all the yatris in the bus were unregistered which was plying outside the security set-up for the purpose, that a 56 seater bus carrying as many unregistered yatris was allowed to proceed without any check or questioning.' 'Recently, Kashmir police arrested a Hindu boy, by the name of 'Sandeep Sharma'in the same area. He is being passed as an accomplice of Bashir Lashkari, a militant, who was killed in an operation with forces. Strangely Sandeep was caught alive when all other militants were killed,' the KCSDS statement added. Federation Chamber of Industries Kashmir (FCIK) called an emergency meeting to condemn the attack. The meeting chaired by FCIK president, M Ashraf Mir urged the government to take all necessary steps for safety of yatris and bring the culprits to book. 'Such types of incidents disturb communal harmony of the state,' Mir said while urging people to maintain peace and calm in this hour of grief. PHD Chamber Of Commerce & Industry Kashmir Chapter held an emergency meeting. Co-Chairman of PHD Chamber Zahoor Ahmad Tramboo Kashmiris must stand together against those people who would use this incident to spread extremist views and also those who would spread fear and hate within the society. 'Hopefully, this will unite us against all kinds of extremism and communal frenzy.' Pahalgam Hotels and Restaurant Owners Association (PHAROA) also condemned the attack. It said Kashmiris have always shown hospitality and treated tourists and yatris as their valued guests. London based Kashmir Voice International (KVI) also held an emergency meeting, condemning the incident. 'KVI believes that pilgrims (Yatris) have always been welcome even during these years of turmoil. Pilgrims (Yatris) are our guests and deserve all love and respect. This act of terrorism hurts Kashmir ethos of love for humanity. An urgent enquiry is needed to bring the culprits to justice,' reads the statement issued by KVI. Meanwhile, a human rights group filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) here, demanding an investigation into yesterday's attack on the pilgrims. 'We have filed a petition before SHRC demanding it to investigate the attack on the Amarnath pilgrims,' said Chairman International Forum for Justice and Protection for Human Rights Mohammad Ahsan Antoo. However, the SHRC is yet to admit his petition.