Chinar Corps Commander, Lt Gen JS Sandhu, today described Amarnath militant attack as “one reversal” stating however that the anti-militancy operations will continue.
Speaking to reporters here today, Sandhu said that Amarnath Yatra attack has been one reversal but the Army we will continue “our operations, targeting terrorists.’’ “ We will continue improving the situation,” he said here while briefing the media.
“Situation is under control,” said Sandhu, adding “The army is not too worried about the situation becoming too bad or alarming. The situation will remain under control.” He also said that youth from the valley were “ready to serve the nation” as recruitment to security forces from the state was very high.
On Zahoor Ahmad Thakur, a soldier in Jammu and Kashmir’s Baramulla district, who went missing with his service weapon, Sandhu said there was no confirmation of him joining militant ranks. “We are tracking him,” he added. Thakur, who was with the Territorial Army’s 173 Battalion, had gone missing.
Meanwhile fresh batch of over 3,300 pilgrims on Saturday left for the Kashmir Valley to perform the annual Amarnath Yatra, an official said. “A total of 3,398 yatris left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas at 3.30 am in an escort. On the 16th day of the yatra on Friday, nearly 10,000 pilgrims paid obeisance inside the holy Himalayan cave situated at 3,888 metres above the sea-level. Around two lakh pilgrims have performed the yatra since it began on 29 June,” said an official.
Despite a recent militant attack on a pilgrim bus in Anantnag seven pilgrims were killed and 19 others injured. There has however been a steady flow of devotees to the cave shrine that houses the ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
The state police has constituted a six-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) to probe whether or not there had been any security lapse that made the attack in Batengo on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway possible.
The militants were successful in pulling off the attack despite intelligence inputs and a multi-layered security cover on the pilgrimage route. Over 35,000 security personnel drawn from the army, Central Reserve Police Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and the state police have been deployed this year to provide security to the pilgrims. There has been widespread condemnation of the Amarnath attack across political and ideological divide in Kashmir as the entire society condemned it in one voice. The 40-day long yatra will conclude on 7 August on ‘Shravan Purnima’ coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.