Terrorist Organisation Hizbul Mujahideen chief says Amarnath yatris our guests, won’t target them

In an escorted convoy amid multi-layered security cover, the first batch of pilgrims will leave for the Valley from Jammu’s Bhagwati Nagar base camp for the annual 60-day Amarnath Yatra, which begins from Thursday. This year more than two lakh pilgrims have registered for the holy yatra in south Kashmir Himalayas.

The pilgrims will start their onward journey to the 3,880-metre high cave shrine by foot, on Thursday, marking the commencement of the pilgrimage— which is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.

S D Singh Jamwal, Inspector General of Police, Jammu, said: “All arrangements are in place to ensure smooth and peaceful pilgrimage, which is a symbol of brotherhood and communal harmony.”

He said security forces are fully alert and they have taken adequate measures to thwart nefarious designs of anti-national elements and their mentors from across the border.

To secure the pilgrimage, around 40,000 security personnel from the army, paramilitary forces, state police and the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed on duty. Hundreds of security personnel have been deployed on security at the Baltal (north Kashmir) and the Pahalgam (south Kashmir) base camps of the Yatra.

Calling Amarnath Yatris are guests of people of Jammu and Kashmir, Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Riyaz Naikoo on Tuesday rejected Director General of Police’s claims that militants were planning an attack on the annual pilgrimage as “completely baseless”.

In a new audio clip released here, Naikoo also invited KashmirI Pandits to return to their homes but not to separate colonies.

“DGP SP Vaid recently said that government has heightened security because (militants) plan to attack Yatra which is absolutely wrong and baseless. We have no plan to attack Amarnath Yatra and we will never ever attack Amarnath Yatris as they come to realize their religious rites,” Naikoo said, adding, “We want to tell Amarnath Yatris that you have no threat from us. You come without security. You are our guests but do not try to interfere in Kashmir issue.”

“We have never attacked Amarnath pilgrims. We are not at war with the Yatris, we at war with those who forced us to pick up the gun. We are fighting for our rights and our freedom. Our war is against the Indian state and not against the people of India,” said Naikoo in the clip.

Inspector General of Police, Jammu, S D Singh Jamwal said, “All arrangements are in place to ensure smooth and peaceful pilgrimage, which is a symbol of brotherhood and communal harmony.”

He said security forces are fully alert and they have taken adequate measures to thwart nefarious designs of anti-national elements and their mentors from across the border.

Security officials said 1.96 lakh pilgrims have so far registered themselves for the yatra, which will for the first time see the use of radio frequency (RF) tags on Amarnath- bound vehicles and CRPF motorcycle squads in action.

Security arrangements around the base camps, temples, railway stations, bus stands and other crowded places here have been strengthened, the officials said.

“In Kashmir, you will see Bihari people everywhere. They can be seen in every nook and corner of the Valley. If situation in Kashmir is unfavorable, how lakhs of Biharis and others earn their bread and butter here. If people of Kashmir are terrorists, how these people return home unharmed?”

He said students of Jammu and Kashmir are harassed and beaten up everywhere in Indian states “but have any outsider student ever complained of ill treatment meted out to them anywhere in Kashmir?”

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